The Segway Debate Continues

Segway scooters are in the news once again. It seems that one Florida group that raises money to buy Segways for disabled veterans is protesting the fact that Walt Disney World and Sea World Orlando will not allow them in their parks — even if they are used by disabled guests.

I can kind of see their point, as Segways can go up to 12 mph and there are a lot of kids running around in those parks. I expect if you had folks zipping around on Segways, then accidents would happen. And who would be liable? The park has the deepest pockets so I expect that’s where injured parties (and their attorneys) would go. And I guess the parks know that. Hence the ban.

So I suppose it goes back to the old question — can Segways be considered assistive devices? If you are looking for an answer to that question, I don’t have it here.

I can tell you from what I’ve read that folks like them because they are “cooler” than wheelchairs (their words not mine) and because they also put folks on eye level with bi-peds. I can understand the second reason, but unfortunately a large number of wheelers just don’t have that option. But I digress.

In any case, one Florida vet tried to take a Segway into WDW and they would not allow him in the park with it, so he had to borrow a manual wheelchair and have his wife push him around all day. He was humiliated by the whole experience as it took away the independence that the Segway offered him.

So that’s how the whole brouhaha started.

But playing the devil’s advocate, if the parks allowed Segways, how would they differentiate between disabled users and recreational users? I’m sure they wouldn’t want to allow recreational users as that would be a real recipe for disaster. Would they require documentation from disabled users? That seems the only reasonable way to separate the two groups, That’s where things get sticky, at least for me. Those of you who read this blog regularly know I’m anti-documentation, so for that reason alone I just can’t get behind the whole idea.

And I also have to admit that the whole “cooler than a wheelchairs” statement kind of grates on my nerves.

But it will be interesting to see if Segways become the affordable equivalent of an IBOT for slow walkers, or if they just kind of fade away into the sunset. Think about it — when was the last time you saw one?

I think they are fading.