Interpreter Services

If you fear you have a serious, life-threatening illness or injury that could require emergency medical, surgical or psychiatric attention, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

UW Medicine provides care for people from all over the world with a wide range of cultures and many different communication needs. To support equal access to care, Interpreter Services offers:

  • Free interpretation in more than 80 languages and dialects (in person or by phone or video) by qualified medical interpreters
  • Help communicating for patients who are blind, deaf or hard-of-hearing

How to request an interpreter:

  • Call your clinic or hospital.
  • Say “interpreter.”
  • Say the language you need.
  • You can also tell us when you make the appointment.

Contacts & resources


Interpreter services: 206.744.9250

  • Harborview’s Community House Calls Program serves refugee and immigrant patients who speak Amharic, Cambodian, Oromo, Somali, Spanish, Tigrigna and Vietnamese.
  • Healthcare providers: Use Ethnomed, a database about cultural beliefs and healthcare needs of immigrant communities and community resources to support them.


Main number: 206.364.0500



Leave a message at one of the numbers below, and an interpreter will call you back within one business day to help you speak with your care team or the office you need.


Main number: 425.690.1000

What to expect from your interpreter:

Your interpreter will:

  • Introduce himself or herself.
  • Help you communicate with your care team and other clinic or hospital staff.
  • Encourage you to ask questions about your condition or treatment.
  • Help your care team understand your point of view and goals so they can plan treatment that works for you.
  • Help your care team understand how people in your culture talk about difficult subjects.
  • Suggest ways to communicate clearly and with respect.
  • Explain the American healthcare system, how to deal with healthcare bills and how to get things done.
  • Tell your care team about language resources they can use, such as translated forms or handouts.
  • Help your care team use aids, such as models, posters, pictures and videos, to show you about your condition and treatment. 
  • Behave professionally, and protect your dignity and privacy.

Interpreter Services also:

  • Translates documents into many languages and Braille
  • Accommodates disabilities and provides adaptive devices
  • Consults with UW Medicine healthcare providers and staff on patients’ cultures
  • Consults on how to remove barriers to care for vulnerable groups
  • Consults on how to communicate well with all patients

Watch a video: Medical Interpreters: A Bridge to Care.