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ADA rule making proposed for "power-driven mobility devices"

Department of Justice publishes Notice of Proposed Rule Making to add a broad new category of “other power-driven mobility devices.

ARROW Analysis of state and local OPDMD regulations and policies

ARROW View recorded Webinar with audio in wmv format presented by American Trails on the DOJ Rule on "Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices," Feb. 23, 2011

ARROW See QUESTIONS and ANSWERS on power-driven mobility devices

During the 20th anniversary celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act, President Obama announced the U.S. Department of Justice has issued final regulations revising Title II and III, including the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

Wheelchairs and Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices. The rule adopts a two-tiered approach to mobility devices, drawing distinctions between wheelchairs and "other power-driven mobility devices." "Other power-driven mobility devices" include a range of devices not designed for individuals with mobility impairments, such as the Segway® PT, but which are often used by individuals with disabilities as their mobility device of choice. Wheelchairs (and other devices designed for use by people with mobility impairments) must be permitted in all areas open to pedestrian use. "Other power-driven mobility devices" must be permitted to be used unless the covered entity can demonstrate that such use would fundamentally alter its programs, services, or activities, create a direct threat, or create a safety hazard. The rule also lists factors to consider in making this determination. This approach accommodates both the legitimate business interests in the safe operation of a facility and the growing use of the Segway® PT as a mobility device by returning veterans and others who are using the Segway® PT as their mobility aid of choice.

See aditional information and comments on the “power-driven mobility device" issue:

"The proposed regulation does not exclude other power driven mobility devices from use in proposed or designated federal Wilderness areas."

Concerns with proposed powered mobility device rule

Trail managers and supporters, as well as some accessibility advocates have raised concerns about the proposed rules and definitions for mobility devices. The following questions and comments are intended to encourage thought and discussion on this complex issue:

  • "If the rule were adopted without greater weight given to the central values of backcountry recreation, the land manager would have to prove that “use of the device is not reasonable or that its use will result in a fundamental alteration of the public entity’s service, program, or activity. Furthermore, the land manager and cooperating managers, “shall not ask a person using a mobility device questions about the nature and extent of the person’s disability."
  • "Powered scooters have become the vehicle of choice indoors as well as out. Even though most models are specifically designed for outdoor use, many people with disabilities want wider doors and hallways so they can use the same device indoors as well. As the proposed rule is written, could motorized bikes and small ATVs be used in the same way?"
  • "The key phrase in the proposed rule is the clause that states the person with a disability must be allowed to use any device whether or not the device is made specifically for persons with disabilities."
  • "The proposed definition only allows for a very limited range of exceptions. How could the definition be writen to clarify which types of "other power driven mobility devices" would be allowed?"
  • "The assumption of the proposed rule is that all trails and areas are open to such use by people who have disabilities unless posted as closed to that specific use."
  • "The expectation of the proposed rule, as explained in the NPRM preamble, is that any person who says they have a disability will be allowed to operate any device that increases their mobility, even if the use of such devices in that location are prohibited for all other people."
  • "It would be up to individual land managers to evaluate each trail and area in order to identify the trails and areas where each specific type of other power driven mobility device will be prohibited."
  • "It has the potential to dramatically change traditional park and forest environments, create a confusing new array of expectations among the public and managers, and deplete already strained public resources."
  • "The required policy development by public entities to prohibit the use of other power-driven mobility devices by persons with disabilities will be an onerous, expensive task for them and, in the interim, major resource and trail damage could occur."

All comments must be received by Regulations.Gov by August 18, 2008.

On June 17, 2008, the Department of Justice (DOJ) published in the Federal Register a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM). Within this NPRM, DOJ is proposing to add a broad new category of “other power-driven mobility devices.” See "Section 36.311 Mobility Devices."

All comments were to be received by Regulations.Gov by August 18, 2008.

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