Harborview Medical Center serves a culturally and linguistically diverse population in the King County area. The role of the Interpreter Services Department is to ensure that these patients receive equitable access to the medical services offered there at any given time by providing language and communication support.

Photograph of Interpreter Services Department 2023 Staff Retreat

Interpreter Services Department 2023 Retreat

Our Mission

To contribute to the elimination of health care disparities experienced by limited English proficient and the hearing impaired populations who receive care at Harborview Medical Center by:

  • Providing effective interpretation services in response to a continuum of need.
  • Maintaining partnerships with patients, families, communities, providers and staff that promote culturally competent care.
  • Making information about culture, health, illness and community resources available to health care providers who see refugee and immigrant patients.


To contact Harborview Interpreter Services about needs for language or cultural support, please visit the UW Medicine website. The department offers:

  • Free medical interpretation (in person, by phone, and by video) by DSHS accredited interpreters in more than 80 languages and dialects. These include but are not limited to Spanish, Somali, Vietnamese, Amharic, Mandarin, Tigrigna, Cantonese, Oromo and Russian.
  • Communication assistance for patients who are deaf or hard of hearing with the use of American Sign Language, TTY machines and other aids.
  • Navigation assistance through the Community House Calls Program for 6 languages (Amharic, Cambodian, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese).

Certification – Washington State

The Washington State Language Testing & Certification Program (LTC) provides bilingual certification and testing services to ensure quality services to the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Limited English Proficient (LEP) populations.

Related Links

Meet the Harborview Interpreter Services Team
Article featured in UW Medicine’s “The Huddle” highlighting the Harborview Interpreter Services Department in celebration of the International Day of the Translator (Sept 30, 2021).

Community Stories: Medical Interpreters -- A Bridge to Care
Navigating the health care system can be daunting, especially if there are cultural and language barriers. Medical interpreters, who often draw from their own experiences and histories, work with patients and providers to bridge those gaps.  This 15 minute video highlights the experiences of several medical interpreters at Harborview Medical Center and University of Washington Medical Center.

Medical Interpreters Blog
Resources and Information for Healthcare Interpreters including certificates and training.

Podcast- Interpreting for Healthcare
A series of 30-minute podcasts are intended for healthcare interpreters, and anyone interested in improving linguistic access to healthcare. Some of the brightest, most creative minds in the field keep you abreast of emerging trends and best practices in our profession.