DDA mailboxes guidelines
When specifying letter boxes for a building project, a common concern is that of the height of the letter boxes in order to comply with the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act). Whilst there are no guidelines or official requirements set out for letter boxes, it could be considered that mailboxes in communal lobby areas are subject to the same access considerations as toilet and sanitary access for disabled users.
In accordance with the DDA, architects, designers and specifiers must address the needs of disabled users by providing reasonable access to public facilities and services. Accordingly, Post Boxes UK looks at the needs of disabled residents in relation to mailbox access.
The DDA and EN13724
As part of European Norm EN13724, it is suggested that the aperture of a mailbox be positioned between 600mm and 1800mm from finished floor level (FFL). This is not a legal requirement and Post Boxes UK has known clients specify banks of mailboxes which do go virtually to FFL.
However this is not practical for the majority residents; one might say it is unreasonable. So subsequently, EN13724 is a standard which is recommended and in a sense, reasonable. It therefore stands to reason that EN13724 adequately encompasses the requirements of the DDA.
Considering disabled residents
For the purposes of this exercise, and in terms of letterbox access, we have assumed that a disabled resident is one who uses a wheelchair. By doing so we have also assumed that the arms of the wheelchair are at a minimum height of 700mm FFL.
The following infographic shows a bank of 60 horizontal commercial mailboxes at a minimum height of 600mm FFL and a maximum height of 1800mm FFL. The yellow areas highlight approximate maximum common reaching zones for wheelchair users, whilst the green areas show approximate comfortable common reaching zones.
This may be of particular interest to readers (it was to Post Boxes UK) – the bottom two rows of mailboxes are not necessarily the most accessible for disabled residents. As the bottom of the letterbox may be below the typical wheelchair height of 700mm (as a minimum), a disabled resident may have to manoeuvre themselves to reach down into the letterbox.
These bottom rows of post boxes have usually been reserved for the needs of disabled residents, and this is not unreasonable. However, it should be considered that a letterbox for a disabled user be between (approx.) 800mm and 1200mm FFL, may be more user-friendly.
With 800mm to 1200mm considered as the comfortable common reaching zone, going over 1200mm is not desirable. As with reaching down, by going to a height of over 1200mm, a wheelchair user may have to stretch to reach their mailbox. Circumstances may dictate that there is no other option, and there is a maximum common reaching zone of approx. 1200mm to 1400mm FFL.
Certainly, positioning commercial letterboxes over 1400mm FFL is not considering the needs of disabled residents, and is unreasonable.
For further information regarding DDA (Disabled Discrimination Act) compliance, please visit some of the following websites:
The above article and all associated intellectual property is created by and belongs in its entirety to Post Boxes UK Limited (2013).