Resources for Medical Interpreters

The National CLAS Standards

The National Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) Standards in Health and Health Care are intended to advance health equity, improve quality and help eliminate health care disparities by establishing a blueprint for health and health care organizations to:

Principal Standard

1) Provide effective, equitable, understandable and respectful quality care and services that are responsive to diverse cultural health beliefs and practices, preferred languages, health literacy and other communication needs.

Governance, Leadership and Workforce

2) Advance and sustain organizational governance and leadership that promotes CLAS and health equity through policy, practices and allocated resources.

3) Recruit, promote and support a culturally and linguistically diverse governance, leadership and workforce that are responsive to the population in the service area.

4) Educate and train governance, leadership and workforce in culturally and linguistically appropriate policies and practices on an ongoing basis.

Communication and Language Assistance

5) Offer language assistance to individuals who have limited English proficiency and/or other communication needs, at no cost to them, to facilitate timely access to all health care and services.

6) Inform all individuals of the availability of language assistance services clearly and in their preferred language, verbally and in writing.

7) Ensure the competence of individuals providing language assistance, recognizing that the use of untrained individuals and/or minors as interpreters should be avoided.

8) Provide easy-to-understand print and multimedia materials and signage in the languages commonly used by the populations in the service area.

Engagement, Continuous Improvement and Accountability

9) Establish culturally and linguistically appropriate goals, policies and management accountability, and infuse them throughout the organizations’ planning and operations.

10) Conduct ongoing assessments of the organization’s CLAS-related activities and integrate CLAS-related measures into assessment measurement and continuous quality improvement activities.

11) Collect and maintain accurate and reliable demographic data to monitor and evaluate the impact of CLAS on health equity and outcomes and to inform service delivery.

12) Conduct regular assessments of community health assets and needs and use the results to plan and implement services that respond to the cultural and linguistic diversity of populations in the service area.

13) Partner with the community to design, implement and evaluate policies, practices and services to ensure cultural and linguistic appropriateness.

14) Create conflict- and grievance-resolution processes that are culturally and linguistically appropriate to identify, prevent and resolve conflicts or complaints.

15) Communicate the organization’s progress in implementing and sustaining CLAS to all stakeholders, constituents and the general public.2

Guiding documents for the profession


MING fully supports and adheres to the National Code of Ethics and National Standards of Practice as published by the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC).


Title VI, has special significance for those of us working with limited English proficient (LEPs) clients in the health and human services fields. This federal law protects persons from discrimination based on their race, color, or national origin, in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. Such recipients of federal funds include most every hospital and clinic in Georgia, both private and public, social service agencies (such as Medicaid), mental health centers, nursing homes, etc., anyone who receives federal dollars. The law applies to every LEP seeking services, regardless of whether or not they are private pay, insurance or Medicaid/Medicare patients and regardless of whether or not they have legal documents.


On August 11, 2000, President Clinton signed Executive Order 13166, “Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency.”  The Executive Order requires Federal agencies to examine the services they provide, identify any need for services to those with limited English proficiency (LEP), and develop and implement a system to provide those services so LEP persons can have meaningful access to them. Download  Executive Order 13166


“In 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) became law and began to reshape how patients and healthcare providers think about the privacy of patient information. For interpreters who work in health care settings, it is important to understand how the patient privacy requirements of HIPAA affect their work and conduct.” Read more of this article by the National Health Law Program on HIPAA.

A Fundamental Right
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects persons from discrimination based on their national origin, as it relates to limited English proficiency, in programs that receive federal financial assistance. Those programs include most every hospital and clinic in Georgia. Access to an equal standard of care is a person’s right in the United States, regardless of their legal status. Effective communication equals effective care.
“The error rate of untrained interpreters (including family and friends) is sufficiently high as to make their use more dangerous in some circumstances than no interpreter at all. This is because it lends a false sense of security to both provider and client that accurate communication has actually taken place.” Office of Minority Health Report, 1999