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Disneyland ordered to study use of Segways after disability suit

July 19, 2012 |  8:56 am

A three-judge panel ordered Disneyland to study the idea of allowing the use of Segways in the theme park, overturning a lower court’s decision in favor of Disney.

"Technological advances didn't end with the powered wheelchair," the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said Wednesday.

The case was brought by Tina Baughman, who suffers from limb girdle muscular dystrophy. Her condition makes it difficult for her 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, a two-wheeled transportation device operated in standing position. Disney refused.

A lower court ruled in favor of Disney, citing that the park allowed disabled visitors to use wheelchairs and scooters. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, however, reversed the decision on the grounds that federal disability protections require more than assuring mere access.

"As new devices become available, public accommodations must consider using or adapting them to help disabled guests have an experience more akin to that of non-disabled," Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote for the court.

Disney must show, based on actual risks, why Segways would be unsafe in the park, the panel said. The case now returns to district court.


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Photo: A three-judge panel ordered Disneyland, pictured above, to study the use of Segways in the theme park. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times