HRPDC’s Jenny Redick (Regional Inclusive Emergency Planner) and Cheryl Simpson of the Endependence Center joined VDOT’s Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel administrators and employee at the Long Range Acoustical Device (LRAD) demonstration. The demonstration was held on the North Island of the HRBT on Saturday, May 20. Ms. Redick and Ms. Simpson were invited by VDOT as consultants representing the HRPDC’s Inclusive Emergency Planning Subcommittee. The demonstration was part of VDOT’s efforts to make facilities such as bridges and tunnels compliant with the American Disabilities Act (ADA).
During the demonstration VDOT employees tested several prototypes of long-range devices that provide very pin-pointed, long-range acoustics (tone and voice). The devices may augment communication in tunnels and on bridges at a long distance. VDOT’s current equipment can only pre-empt AM/FM broadcasts. With more drivers listening to satellite radio or streaming services, an LRAD will enable VDOT to reach those drivers with emergency information.
Ms. Simpson was also able to provide VDOT with invaluable input regarding those with hearing impairments.
“Their communications staff interviewed me regarding my hearing impairment, how the testing went with my hearing impairment and my opinion of this demonstration,” said Ms. Simpson. “It was a really great experience.”
During and following the demonstrations, Ms. Redick and Ms. Simpson engaged VDOT administrators in a robust discussion regarding VDOT’s goals in transitioning toward ADA compliance for communication (voice, signage, etc.) before, during and after emergencies including evacuation accessibility features for current tunnel/bridge infrastructure, as well as the new structure in its preliminary planning stages.
VDOT welcomed the Inclusive Emergency Planning Subcommittee’s continued consultative relationship during the ADA transition process. The Subcommittee is excited to work with VDOT to increase ADA compliance and accessibility and as a result, a more resilient community.