Guidelines for Providing Interpreter Services


Clients with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) or clients requiring American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreters must not be turned away or told to return with an interpreter.  Professional interpreters are offered free of charge to all clients with LEP in order to conduct Department business.

A client who presents either in person or by telephone with an adult intending to act as an interpreter must be advised that the Department will provide a professional interpreter free of charge.  The client may decline the use of professional interpreter services and choose to have the adult serve as an interpreter. 



If the client declines the use of professional interpreter services, you must annotate the Narrative tab “Client declined professional interpreter services.”



Children over age 12 may interpret only to schedule appointments.  Children age 12 and under may not be asked to interpret for any purpose.


A client who speaks some English or appears to understand English may not have the language skills needed to fully comprehend what Department staff is communicating or the Department’s written materials.  If you find that a professional interpreter is needed, including an ASL interpreter, at any point in the interaction with the client, you must arrange for interpreter services. 



There are no "magic words" a client must say to request an interpreter. 


Example 1:

Vladimir Rabinowicz comes to the office to apply for benefits.  The front desk clerk observes that he does not seem to understand simple questions asked of him, such as “What is your address?”  The clerk should provide Mr. Rabinowicz with the “I speak” card and notify you of the need for an interpreter. 


Example 2:

Maria Valdez is a native Spanish speaker.  She tells you that her community health center provides her with an interpreter, but does not directly ask for a Department interpreter.  This should be treated as an interpreter request. You should stop the interaction until in-person or telephonic interpreter assistance can be secured.

A client has the right to refuse the use of a specific bilingual case manager, Human Service Assistants (HSA) or contracted in-person interpreter.  You must not inquire as to the reason for refusal.  In this situation, another bilingual worker, HSA or a telephonic interpreter must be engaged to provide interpretation for the client.



If the client declines the use of a bilingual case manager, HSA or in-person interpreter, you should annotate the Narrative tab “Client declined interpreter services.”  


If a contracted interpreter from an outside service does not appear for a scheduled in-person interview, immediately access a telephonic interpreter to conduct the interview.  Do not reschedule the interview in this situation. 

Clients must be allowed to complete Department business on the date of first contact, if time permits.  Otherwise, a follow-up appointment must be scheduled using the interpreter to arrange a mutually convenient date and time.  Clients retain all rights based on their initial application dates. 



Application and recertification materials, including Rights and Responsibilities, must be orally interpreted when the materials are not available in the language that the person can read.


Interpreter Services Policy and Procedures


  Last Update:  March 25, 2016