The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline increased accessibility by adding American Sign Language services for the deaf and hard of hearing.

In July of 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services launched 988 as the number for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline in the United States. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

An ASL Now button was made available on the lifelines website on September 8. Direct dialing to 988 using a videophone is expected to be available in the coming weeks.

Nikki Soukup who is the Director of Public Policy and Community Relations for the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing explained how impactful this added feature is.

Many deaf individuals often don’t have the ability to access services in their area. Many may feel isolated and often end up suffering in silence, Soukup said.

She said it’s important to have people to talk to who understand your experiences and where you may be coming from.

We’ve seen situations where deaf and hard of hearing individuals may not be comfortable going to see a professional who they don’t feel will understand them. And that might be all that’s available locally to them.

The lifeline is now available in three different formscall, text, and video.

It’s wonderful having resources like this available and offering these resources in many different ways to allow people to connect anytime, anywhere. That really is what’s incredible about this service and we hope that people can look at the diversity of what’s offered and to see that these are resources that can be used within the community, Soukop said.