Hagerstown paraplegic farmer says U.S. Post Office is not accessible

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HAGERSTOWN, Ind. – A paraplegic farmer in Hagerstown, Ed Bell, is fighting for change at a U.S. Post Office. He believes the one near him is not accessible.

When you go to this post office on West Main Street, you can only get to the front door by using the stairs. There are no ramps for patrons who cannot use stairs.

Bell stopped by the post office on Thursday to drop off a package. He waited for someone to come out and asked the woman to help send his mail.

The woman went back inside as Bell sat at the bottom of the stairs. This is the way he’s been sending mail for decades.

“It’s time to get with things and get up to code,” Bell said.

He feels it’s been going on for way too long and now he wants things to change.

“It’s time for them to get into this century and get the post office accessible for everybody,” he said.

A few minutes later, a postal worker came out to take his package. Bell said employees have told him about an option in the back parking lot which is a loading dock lift.

“We ought to be going in the front door like everyone,” said Bell.

USPS must follow standards issued under the Architectural Barriers Act, or ABA. A spokesperson for USPS said the technical standards and scoping requirements applicable under ABA have been adopted by the Postal Service.

She also said the Hagerstown Post Office is on the National Register of Historical Buildings, and as such the building cannot be changed in any way.

“Regarding an accessible entrance to the front of the building, since the facility was built prior to the passing of the ABA of 1968, it is grandfathered from any accessibility upgrades. Regarding the rear ramp, this is for operational purposes and is not a designated Accessible entrance ramp. However, anyone in a wheelchair can use the ramp and ring the bell at the rear for service. The Hagerstown Postmaster is very willing to accommodate his customers with disabilities, and as you saw this morning, will come to their car, take the package, assess how much is owed, get the money, and then come back with the tracking number and receipt.”

Bell still thought this was not right. He said he plans to file a complaint with the U.S. Access Board.

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