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Sign language interpreter contract transition

Based on active engagement with stakeholders and Sign Language (SL) interpreter agencies to identify ways to improve access to SL interpreters for Apple Health, the Health Care Authority (HCA) will implement a new process for providing sign language interpreters. This page provides information about the contract transition project, including workgroup meetings.

Stakeholder meeting: December 16, 2019
Time: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
Location: Health Care Authority, Cherry Street Plaza, 626 8th Ave SE, Olympia

Take the registration survey

Providers: temporary request process (starting October 1)

HCA and the Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) are finalizing the new process for requesting Sign Language (SL) interpreters for Medicaid clients for service dates after January 1, 2020

What does this mean for me?

Until process development is complete (estimated by end of October 2019), providers must take the following steps to secure an SL interpreter for the following situations:

  • For services now through December 31, 2019: continue current electronic submittal process with Universal Language Services (ULS).
  • For services January 1, 2020 and after: use our temporary “manual” process until we finalize the new process. The new process will include electronic submittal option. 

Important: ULS will stop accepting sign language requests for 2020 appointments on October 1, 2019.

What is the temporary “manual” process?

For 2020 service dates: until the new electronic submittal process is in place, you must:

  1. Complete the first two sections of the DSHS Form #17-123A.
  2. Send the form via email to HCASLinterpreterRequests@hca.wa.gov
    ​Include the following in your email:
    1. Medical provider's name
    2. Medical provider's NPI number
    3. Medical provider's specialization (i.e. behavioral health, primary care, cardiology, etc.)
    4. The Apple Health client's ProviderOne number
  3. HCA will review the form and send you an email confirmation accepting the request.
  4. Once the request has an interpreter assigned (filled), HCA will send a confirmation email with the name of the interpreter and/or interpreter agency.

How do I request an interpreter for 2019?

You must submit all requests for SL interpreter services with 2019 dates of services to ULS.


What happened?

The fulfillment rates of sign language (SL) interpreter services covering appointments for the Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Medicaid population within Washington have historically been insufficient to meet the needs of the population. HCA interpreter services SL stakeholders have consistently asked HCA to consider contracting with SL agencies to provide SL services to Apple Health clients. 

In July 2019, HCA contracted with a vendor to provide both spoken and SL services. While this new vendor was able to increase SL fulfillment rates, many Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing clients were not able to secure an interpreter for their Apple Health appointments.

After receiving feedback from stakeholders at the February 25, 2019 stakeholder meeting, HCA began exploring recommendations to either:

  • Work directly with SL agencies, or
  • Utilize the Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) SL agency contracts.

Working through these two options with stakeholders, HCA opted to utilize ODHH SL agency contracts beginning January 1, 2020 to fulfill Apple Health client’s requests for SL interpretation services.

ODHH currently works with the Department of Enterprise Services (DES) to reprocure their SL contracts and implement new, statewide master contracts. HCA will utilize the SL master contracts to provide SL interpreters for Apple Health clients.

Visit ODHH’s website for more information about their Sign Language Interpreter Contractors.

What happens now?

Moving forward, HCA will partner with ODHH to define and implement a process for utilizing master contracts. The process will be Title II ADA compliant and meet the language access needs of our Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Apple Health clients. This also means that in the future the current vendor, Universal Language Services (ULS), will not provide SL interpreter services for HCA.


HCA hosts a quarterly stakeholder meeting to keep the community up-to-date with program changes. From this group of stakeholders, HCA has formed a sub-workgroup that meets bi-monthly and assists HCA with designing and implementing key pieces of the new process in partnership with ODHH. 

Workgroup meetings

Agenda and meeting materials are added as they become available.

Stakeholder workgroup





The following timeline represents the contract transition project from inception in May 2019 to fulfillment in January 2020.



HCA publish external web page  


ULS stop accepting 2020 requests


ULS remove interpreters from 2020 requests 10/31/2019
HCA resubmit 2020 requests through ODHH 11/15/2019

HCA develop and conduct interpreter training 


HCA develop and conduct provider training 


Providers begin to use new ODHH process


Transition from ULS to ODHH completed


Frequently asked questions (FAQs)