Promoting Meaningful Access Through Education

Medical Interpreter Services Resource Guide

Here you will find information on interpreter and translator services and training. This includes standards of practice, ethics, competency testing, and role definition.


Non-Profit – National

American Translators Association (ATA) – Offers online directories, including a Directory of Interpreting and Translating Services and a Directory of Language Service Companies.  There is a Medical Division, as well as divisions by major languages.

International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA) – Provides information on training opportunities, resources, and standards from the United States and International entities.

National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC) – Multidisciplinary organization based in the United States whose mission is to promote culturally competent professional health care interpreting as a means to support equal access to health care for individuals with limited English proficiency.  Website lists state interpreter associations, working papers, and a National Code of Ethics for Interpreters in Health Care and National Standards of Practice for Interpreters in Health Care.

Non-Profit – Pacific Northwest

American Red Cross, International Services Program, Language Bank in King and Kitsap Counties. (206) 726-3564. Service is free for individuals

Northwest Translators and Interpreters Society (NOTIS) – The Northwest chapter of the American Translators Association. Serves AK, ID, MT, OR, WA.

Government Agencies and Regulations

California Standards for Health Care Interpreters: Ethical Principles, Protocols and Guidance on Roles and Intervention. Created by the California Healthcare Interpreters Association and published by the California Endowment.

Language Testing and Certification Program – Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) – Web site with links to an examination manual and application form for language proficiency certification.


The California Endowment has funded several reports, including How to Choose and Use a Language Agency, 2003; Hospital Language Services for Patients with Limited English Proficiency, 2006; In the Right Words, Addressing Language and Culture in Providing Health Care, 2003; and Certification of Health Care Interpreters, 2006.

Guidelines for Language Proficiency: American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Many job descriptions require a mid level proficiency of a foreign-language, based upon these guidelines.

International Medical Interpreters Association (Boston, MA) has links to standards, certifications and surveys on effective use of interpreters in hospital settings. These include the Medical Interpreting Standards of Practice.

The Joint Commission published a report about cultural and linguistic services in the nation’s hospitals titled: Hospitals, Language and Culture, 2007.

Language Services Resource Guide, Alyssa Sampson. Prepared for the National Health Law Program and The National Council on Interpreting in Health Care. October 2006.

National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (Albany NY) has links to working papers, which include:

    • Are We Ready for National Certication of Interpreters in Health Care? (2007)
    • National Code of Ethics for Interpreters in Health Care (2004)
    • Linguistically Appropriate Access and Services: An Evaluation and Review for Health Care Organizations (2002)
    • The Role of the Health Care Interpreter (2001)
    • Guide to Initial Assessment of Interpreter Qualifications (2001)
    • The Terminology of Health Care Interpreting: A Glossary of Terms (2001)
    • Recommendations for the Ethical Involvement of Limited English-Speakers in Research (2001)
    • Models for the Provision of Health Care Interpreter Training (2002)
    • Models for the Provision of Language Access in Health Care Settings (2002)


The American Translators Association (ATA) offers a listserve as well as a quarterly newsletter from their medical division.

Hablamos Juntos provides a listserv for monthly communications about language practice and policy.

National Council on Interpreting in Health Care provides a listserv for members. Members include interpreters, interpreter service providers, policy makers and other advocates.

International Medical Interpreter Association provides a listserv for members. Members include interpreters and health care professionals.

Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) for searching 

PubMed is a bibliographic database where you can search for recent articles in hundreds of journals. The following search terms are suggested: medical interpreters, limited english proficiency, language, communication, communication barriers.