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COLUMBIA - The Leading through Education and Advocacy for the Deaf Institute (L.E.A.D.) is adding a new phone service that will allow citizens to text in crisis situations. Currently, L.E.A.D. offers a 24-hour crisis line service. It plans on starting the text messaging service to serve deaf clients and so that individuals can text in various situations if they do not feel comfortable calling.

The director of L.E.A.D, Stephanie Logan, said this is an innovative addition to their services.

"People do not always want to call in and talk to someone directly. And when it comes to the deaf community there can be a lot of communication complications," said Logan. "You never know if the volunteer is hearing or not and using video chat can be a hassle in as well."

Logan said this service is not just limited to the deaf community.

"Everyone can use this service. People would be surprised to find out that one of the only crisis lines in Missouri is run out of our office. When people do find out, we want everyone to take advantage of it," said Logan.

The L.E.A.D Institute is partnering with a computer database service in California. Individuals can text into a database and the message will alert any of the computers in the L.E.A.D office. 

Once a volunteer logs into the database, the interaction will stay directly between the person texting and the volunteer.

Director of Disabilities Services at the University of Missouri Barbara Hammer said this will be a great service for first-year college students to be aware of.

"When hard of hearing or deaf students start in college, they are never aware of all the services offered in the community. Then, when they do learn about a few of them, communication can still be an issue--not for everyone, but for a number of students," said Hammer. 

"Sometimes people call us and hang up because they realize the reality of their situation. I think texting will be less intrusive while still giving the survivor the chance to tell their story," said Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center coordinator Danica Wolf. 

Logan said there are still a few hurdles to jump to make sure this service goes into effect. But they are hoping to launch the text messaging line within the next month.