GSA Accepts Segways for Impaired Users in Most Facilities

The General Services Administration, the U.S. government's chief landlord, published a notice Jan. 7 that it now has an interim policy in place allowing individuals with a mobility impairment to use Segway® Personal Transporters and similar devices in federal buildings under GSA jurisdiction, custody, or control. The interim policy does not cover privately owned leased buildings but can be negotiated there, said GSA, which also said it will issue a final policy after assessing the effectiveness of the interim policy.

The agency's contact for more information is Director Stanley C. Langfeld of the Regulations Management Division, stanley.langfeld@gsa.gov or 202-501-1737.

No building alterations or modifications should be required for the devices, according to the notice. The interim policy does not cover motorcycles, mopeds, tricycles, bicycles, or other similar devices that are not permitted to be operated in federal buildings. The policy defines an "individual with a mobility impairment" as anyone who is subject to any physical impairment or condition regardless of its cause, nature or extent that renders the person unable to move about without the aid of crutches, a wheelchair or any other form of support, or that limits the person's functional ability to ambulate, climb, descend, sit, or rise, or to perform any related function.

Individuals without a mobility impairment are not permitted to operate a Segway in powered mode within a federal building unless GSA grants a waiver. A waiver could be appropriate, the agency said, if that individual performs work in areas that are spacious, such as a warehouse, where four-wheeled, battery-operated devices are currently in use.

The policy also says Segways must be operated in a manner that does not compromise the safety of the user, the building occupants or the building infrastructure. Individuals operating a Segway inside a federal building must remain in control at all times, must exercise caution when turning corners and entering or exiting elevators, and must operate their Segways no faster than 3 mph. GSA said the manufacturer notes that magnetometers and X-ray security screening devices may affect the operation and software of Segways, and it recommends that the device not be operated within 5 feet of any magnetometer or X-ray security screening device. This does not mean the machines won't be inspected; GSA and associated building security personnel reserve the right to inspect Segway devices upon entrance to a federal building but cannot ask about the natura and extent of the operator's disability. And Segway devices are permitted on elevators but not on escalators, per the manufacturer's instructions.

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