Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rules regarding Segway usage

Following, is a summary of the federally regulated ADA requirements regarding Wheelchairs, Mobility Aids and Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices (with each reference to the Segway PT highlighted like this). To download or read the complete Title II Final ADA Ruling Facts Sheet (in another window) click here.  

People with mobility, circulatory, respiratory, or neurological disabilities use many kinds of devices for mobility. Some use walkers, canes, crutches, or braces. Some use manual or power wheelchairs or electric scooters. In addition, advances in technology have given rise to new devices, such as Segways®,that some people with disabilities use as mobility devices, including many veterans injured while serving in the military. And more advanced devices will inevitably be invented, providing more mobility options for people with disabilities.

This publication is designed to help State and local governments and businesses and non-profit organizations that serve the public understand how the new rules for mobility devices apply to them. These rules went into effect on March 15, 2011.

Covered entities must also allow people with disabilities who use other types of power-driven mobility devices into their facilities, unless a particular type of device cannot be accommodated because of legitimate safety requirements. Where legitimate safety requirements bar accommodation for a particular type of device, the covered entity must provide the service it offers in alternate ways if possible.

In recent years, some people with mobility disabilities have begun using less traditional mobility devices such as golf cars or Segways®.These devices are called "other power-driven mobility device" (OPDMD) in the rule. OPDMD is defined in the new rules as "any mobility device powered by batteries, fuel, or other engines… that is used by individuals with mobility disabilities for the purpose of locomotion, including golf cars, electronic personal assistance mobility devices… such as the Segway® PT, or any mobility device designed to operate in areas without defined pedestrian routes, but that is not a wheelchair". When an OPDMD is being used by a person with a mobility disability, different rules apply under the ADA than when it is being used by a person without a disability

People with disabilities have the right to choose whatever mobility device best suits their needs. For example, someone may choose to use a manual wheelchair rather than a power wheelchair because it enables her to maintain her upper body strength. Similarly, someone who is able to stand may choose to use a Segway® rather than a manual wheelchair because of the health benefits gained by standing. A facility may be required to allow a type of device that is generally prohibited when being used by someone without a disability when it is being used by a person who needs it because of a mobility disability. For example, if golf cars are generally prohibited in a park, the park may be required to allow a golf car when it is being used because of a person's mobility disability, unless there is a legitimate safety reason that it cannot be accommodated.

  • Under the new rules, covered entities must allow people with disabilities who use wheelchairs (including manual wheelchairs, power wheelchairs, and electric scooters) and manually-powered mobility aids such as walkers, crutches, canes, braces, and other similar devices into all areas of a facility where members of the public are allowed to go.

  • In addition, covered entities must allow people with disabilities who use any OPDMD to enter the premises unless a particular type of device cannot be accommodated because of legitimate safety requirements. Such safety requirements must be based on actual risks, not on speculation or stereotypes about a particular type of device or how it might be operated by people with disabilities using them.

  • For some facilities -- such as a hospital, a shopping mall, a large home improvement store with wide aisles, a public park, or an outdoor amusement park -- covered entities will likely determine that certain classes of OPDMDs being used by people with disabilities can be accommodated. These entities must allow people with disabilities using these types of OPDMDs into all areas where members of the public are allowed to go.

  • In some cases, even in facilities such as those described above, an OPDMD can be accommodated in some areas of a facility, but not in others because of legitimate safety concerns. For example, a cruise ship may decide that people with disabilities using Segways® can generally be accommodated, except in constricted areas, such as passageways to cabins that are very narrow and have low ceilings.

  • For other facilities-- such as a small convenience store, or a small town manager's office -- covered entities may determine that certain classes of OPDMDs cannot be accommodated. In that case, they are still required to serve a person with a disability using one of these devices in an alternate manner if possible, such as providing curbside service or meeting the person at an alternate location.

Based on these assessment factors, the Department of Justice expects that devices such as Segways can be accommodated in most circumstances. The Department also expects that, in most circumstances, people with disabilities using ATVs and other combustion engine-driven devices may be prohibited indoors and in outdoor areas with heavy pedestrian traffic.

Ongoing staff training is essential to ensure that people with disabilities who use OPDMDs for mobility are not turned away or treated inappropriately. Training should include instruction on the types of OPDMDs that can be accommodated, the rules for obtaining credible assurance that the device is being used because of a disability, and the rules for operation of the devices within the facility.

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