Language Services Resource Guide for Health Care Providers

Executive Summary

A resource guide for healthcare providers with infomration on how to effectively provide language services.

In 2003, the National Health Law Program convened national organizations interested in working together on language access issues. This coalition is a collaborative effort to envision and foster a health care delivery system that would better respond to the increasing diversity of our nation. The coalition joins health care providers, advocates, language services agencies, accrediting organizations, and other interested stakeholders to identify areas of consensus to improve language access for limited English proficient individuals.


The coalition developed a Statement of Principles (see Appendix A) to guide its work. The very first Principle embodies the commitment of the coalition ? a recognition that the ultimate goal in the health care setting is effective communication between provider and patient. It states: ?Effective communication between health care providers and patients is essential to facilitating access to care, reducing health disparities and medical errors, and assuring a patient?s ability to adhere to treatment plans.? Other principles address issues of funding for language services, technical assistance, workforce diversity, data collection, and quality improvement.

At the coalition?s first meeting, members identified the need to develop resources to assist in identifying and providing language services. This guide, developed with input from the coalition, gathers basic information about providing language services in one document. Information includes interpreter and translator associations and agencies, training programs, assessment tools, and other materials. A searchable version is available online at We hope that this guide will aid health care providers, administrators, interpreters, translators, and others in improving language access and improving health care for their clients and patients. As we will be updating an on-line version of this guide, if you know of other resources or information that should be included, please contact Mara Youdelman at the National Health Law Program, [email protected] or 202-289-7661.

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