By David Macaulay – firstname.lastname@example.org
A court ruling in California tackles head on the question about how far a theme park must go to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and could have wider implications for businesses.
The issue at stake was Disneyland’s prohibition on the use of Segway scooters. The answer given by the court suggests equal access doesn’t go far enough.
“Technological advances didn’t end with the powered wheelchair,” the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week.
Disneyland has a prohibition on Segways but it’s unlikely to last after the case brought by Tina Baughman, who suffers from limb girdle muscular dystrophy. It’s a condition that makes it difficult to walk or rise from a seated position.
Baughman wanted to celebrate her daughter’s eighth birthday at Disneyland, and asked the theme park if she could use a Segway. The two-wheeled transportation device would have allowed her to tour the park in a stranding position.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires businesses such as stores, restaurants or theme parks to provide equal access to disabled people.
The Ninth Circuit ruling suggests it may go even further than that.
As well as offering equal access, business owners must also take “reasonable steps” to make the experiences of disabled visitors “less onerous and more akin to that enjoyed by its able-bodied patrons,” the Ninth Circuit held, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Unless Disneyland’s lawyers can prove Segways represent a serious threat to safety at the park, the ban looks set to be overturned.
“We have every confidence that the organization that, half a century ago, brought us the Carousel of Progress and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln can lead the way in using new technology to make its parks more welcoming to disabled guests,” Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote, according to Mercurynews.com.
The Disneyland Segway ruling could prove problematic for business owners who believe they are compliant with the Americans with Disability Act but have not kept up with the latest technology.
Business owners who believe they may be affected by the ruling should consult a disability rights lawyer.
David Macaulay – 757-582-1836