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As part of the King County Office of Equity and Social Justice, Public Health - Seattle & King County has created a translation system to make the translation process more efficient, facilitate a greater number of translations, and produce translations that are of consistent high quality.

Addressing the need for a translation policy and system

About one in five people in the King County speaks a language other than English at home, and a significant number of these residents has limited proficiency in English. Quality translation of English materials into different languages is essential in order to provide equal access to culturally and linguistically appropriate health information.

Translations are a health equity issue. Limited-English proficient populations are often underserved, more vulnerable and disproportionately impacted by every day diseases and during emergencies.

Nationally there is recognition of the importance of translations. Standard 7 of the nationally-recognized standards for culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS) states, "Health care organizations must make available easily understood patient-related materials and post signage in the languages of the commonly encountered groups and/or groups represented in the service area."

Providing communities with translated materials is one tactic – and a very important one – of a comprehensive strategy to effectively reach all populations. Bilingual staff and community health workers, interpreters, outreach through ethnic media, and partnerships with community-based organizations are all additional tactics to serve populations with limited proficiency in English.

Public Health Translation Manual (PDF, 4.8 Mb): Guidelines, best practices, resources and maps


  • Pre-translation steps
  • Translation Request Form (Microsoft Word)
  • Choosing Public Health translators or a translation vendor
  • Working with a vendor
  • Post-translation: Quality assurance review
  • Online translation resources
  • King County primary languages maps

Public Health Translation Policy (PDF)


  • Guide to high-quality health translations everyday and in emergencies (PDF)

  • Translation: Getting it right, American Translators Association (PDF)

  • The Cross Cultural Health Program provides cultural competency and training materials, links to national programs, and a resource library. The "Voices of the Communities" profiles deepen the discussion by providing information from a specific community. This program developed these profiles to provide a forum for underserved communities to interact with the health care community.

  • EthnoMed provides information about cultural beliefs, medical issues and other related issues pertinent to the health care of recent immigrants to the United States. Patient education resources are available in several languages.

  • Health Information Translations offers a large collection of patient education materials on several topics and in many languages.

  • Healthy Roads Media provides a range of health topics translated into 17 languages and in a number of formats.