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Sign language interpreter contract transition

The Health Care Authority (HCA) utilizes the Department of Enterprise Services (DES) master contract to obtain sign language interpreters. The Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) oversees the master contracts and partners with HCA to improve access to sign language interpreters for eligible Apple Health (Medicaid) clients.

HCA is working to find better ways to provide interpreter services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn about these solutions

About the transition

In 2020, HCA switched from using a single coordinating entity for all spoken and sign language interpreter requests to using the dedicated sign language contracts managed by ODHH. In spring of 2020, DES and ODHH entered into a cooperative purchase agreement to provide statewide sign language interpreter services through master contracts available to all state agencies.

There are two master contracts:

  • Independent contractors: Sign language interpreters who coordinate their scheduling and business directly with the requestor, rather than through an agency.
  • Sign language interpreter referral agencies: Contractors who seek out and schedule appropriate interpreters for your request. There is an additional booking fee.

In January 2021, ODHH created the Interpreter Request Form for Medical Providers using Apple Health for all sign language interpreter requests. The new form replaces all other versions, and is screen reader compatible.
 

Stakeholder meeting: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all stakeholder meetings have been postponed until further notice.

Clients: Your health care provider is required to provide spoken and sign language access, according to the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For more information, visit the Interpreter services (clients) webpage.

Providers: new ODHH sign language request form

ODHH has created a new online request form for all sign language interpreter requests. The sign language contractors enter the requests into the online form which processes requests electronically. The online form generates automated notices when requests are filled or if a request changes. Providers submit their requests directly to the sign language contractor. Providers no longer use ProviderOne to submit their requests.

What does this mean for me?

  • You no longer need to submit anything in ProviderOne.
  • You work directly with the sign language contractors to request an interpreter.
  • The sign language contractor will work directly with you to coordinate the interpreter request.
  • Your requests will be processed quicker, and will be more streamlined.

Who are the sign language contractors?

ODHH provides a list of sign language contractors and their contact information on their website. You can also view the list by county

Are virtual interpreters available?

Yes! The master contracts permit local sign language interpreters to provide interpretation access through your video conference technology. Sign language interpreters may provide language access services using whatever video platform your office utilizes.

You are responsible for:

  • Providing the virtual platform that will be used.
  • Providing the link to the appointment for the interpreter to join.
  • Providing technical assistance to the interpreter in accessing and utilizing your video platform.

What about DeafBlind clients?

For appointments with DeafBlind clients, a hearing interpreter and Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI) will be provided. The hearing interpreter will participate remotely. The CDI is an essential staff and will be in the same location with the DeafBlind client.

Both interpreters will be provided the video platform link you include in the Interpreter Request Form for Medical Providers using Apple Health. The sign language contractor will help coordinate this. If you have questions or need assistance, you must contact the sign language contractor.

To view a flow chart of the visual process and for additional information, visit the DSHS Sign Language Interpreters webpage.

What is the Deaf Choice Qualified Sign Language Interpreter Request form?

Provide your clients with the Deaf Choice Qualified Sign Language Interpreter Request form when they need a sign language interpreter. This form helps them explain what their communication needs are, and helps the sign language contractors find the best communication match when they are looking for an interpreter. When you request an interpreter, provide the completed form to the sign language contractor. 

How do I get reimbursement for sign language interpreters?

View our Provider reimbursement for Sign Language Interpreters FAQ.

More information

If you have questions about the master contracts or request process please contract ODHH:

ODHH Contact

Phone

Email

SLICR Program Manager

1-360-339-4559

berle.ross@dshs.wa.gov

Program Support Specialist

1-360-338-6042

daniel.wharton@dshs.wa.gov

If you have questions or concerns about  HCA's Interpreter Services program, contact us at interpretersvcs@hca.wa.gov.

DES sign language contractor training resources

Claiming

Prior authorization (PA)

Setting up ProviderOne

Why did the sign language request process change?

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.

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