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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) has decided to transition to a new sign language vendor contract. This page provides information about the contract transition project, including workgroup meetings.

Stakeholder meeting: September 24, 2019
Time: 10 a.m. to noon
Location: Washington State School for the Blind, 2214 East 13th Street, Vancouver, WA 98661


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 interpretative 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 by January 1, 2020 to fulfill Apple Health client’s requests for SL interpretation services.

What happens now?

Moving forward, HCA will partner with ODHH to define and implement a Title II ADA compliant process that meets the needs of our Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Medicaid recipients. This also means that in the future the current vendor, Universal Language Services (ULS), will not manage SL interpreter services.


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




Minutes and other materials

September 24 



December 17 (tentative)







Minutes and other materials

September 9



September 24



October 9



October 22    


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


HCA develop and conduct interpreter training 


HCA develop and conduct provider training 


ULS remove interpreters from 2020 requests


HCA resubmit 2020 requests through ODHH


Providers begin to use new ODHH process


Transition from ULS to ODHH completed


Frequently asked questions (FAQs)