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988 Lifeline Launches American Sign Language Crisis Services

At an event held in a grassy park, a speaker with blonde hair wearing a navy dress stands on a stage and gives a speech from a podium that has a 988 Suicide and Crisis lifeline sign on it. Next to the speaker, a red-haired American Sign Language interpreter in a black shirt and jeans interprets the speech in ASL on stage. The speaker and interpreter are standing in front of an audience that is sitting and watching from folding chairs. Next to the stage, there is a large projector screen that has the message: "You Matter - Text. Call. Chat". Behind the stage, several event workers are sat at a long table with audio and video equipment.
Anna Spidel
At the launch event, speakers from 988 and partner organizations introduced the new videophone service alongside ASL interpreters from DeafLEAD. The event also featured music, dancing, ASL performances, murals and chalk art.

The 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline launched a new American Sign Language video phone service on Friday that provides crisis services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people.

At an event held in Peace Park, 988 lifeline announced the launch of its new videophone, which is designed to give the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community the option to access crisis counselors who speak ASL via video call. Missouri-based organization DeafLEAD is one of two national partners that will provide this service.

Tia Dole is the Chief 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Officer with Vibrant Emotional Health, a non-profit that administers the 988 lifeline. She said that this service allows Deaf and Hard of Hearing people to access services in their own language.

“ASL is not English, and people need to be able to receive culturally appropriate care in the language of their choice when they are in crisis," Dole said.

988’s ASL crisis services can be accessed by pressing the ASL now button on 988lifeline.org, or by calling 1-800-273-8255 on a phone with video capabilities to get connected with an ASL crisis counselor.

For more information about this event and the new 988 service, click here.

Anna Spidel is a health reporter for the KBIA Health & Wealth desk. A proud Michigander, Anna hails from Dexter, Michigan and received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Michigan State University in 2022. Previously, she worked with member station Michigan Radio as an assistant producer on Stateside.