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Disney Segway Suit Balances Biz, Disabled Rights

By Andrew Chow, Esq. | Last updated on

Disneyland's Segway prohibition may soon topple, after a federal appeals court ruled it likely doesn't go far enough to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

As small business owners know, any business that offers "public accommodations" like a retail store, restaurant, hotel, or theme park must provide equal access to disabled patrons under the ADA's Title III.

But the ADA also requires businesses to go one step further, according to the Ninth Circuit's ruling.

In addition to equal access, business owners must also take "reasonable steps" to make its disabled patrons' experiences "less onerous and more akin to that enjoyed by its able-bodied patrons," the Ninth Circuit held, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

For Disneyland, that means disabled people must be allowed to use Segway scooters at the park, unless Disney's lawyers can prove such a move would be a serious threat to safety.

In the Disneyland Segway lawsuit, a disabled mom with muscular dystrophy claimed she was unlawfully denied the use of her Segway during her daughter's birthday visit to Disneyland. The woman needed the two-wheeled device to move around and watch her kids, the Chronicle reports.

Disneyland's fleet of wheelchairs and scooters for disabled guests may not be enough to satisfy the law, the Ninth Circuit ruled.

"Technological advances didn't end with the powered wheelchair," the court wrote in its opinion, according to the Los Angeles Times. "As new devices become available, public accommodations must consider using or adapting them to help disabled guests."

The Disneyland Segway ruling may affect small business owners who think they're ADA compliant, but may actually not be. Consulting a local disability rights lawyer can help keep you on the right side of the law.

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