Three Factors to Consider When Searching for the Right Translation Provider

Jan 13, 2021

You’ve decided to shop around for a translation provider. Where should you start?

The best way to start the translation provider selection process is by conducting an analysis of your organization’s needs. This can be done by developing a language access plan that effectively supports your limited-English-speaking patients.

Questions to Kick Start your Language Access Plan and Translation Needs

Ask yourself the following questions to gain a better understanding of your organization’s translation needs:

  1. Is providing translation legally required in our organization’s industry?

US healthcare providers must provide translation by law. Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act prohibits discrimination in healthcare or health coverage on the basis of race, color, or national origin (including immigration status and English language proficiency). This mandate applies to “every health program or activity, any part of which receives Federal financial assistance.”

Industries outside of healthcare may or may not face legal requirements for language access, but providing this service is still vital. Providing language access services has been shown to increase customer satisfaction. If customers can receive documents translated into their preferred language, they are more likely to report higher rates of satisfaction and your business may avoid misunderstandings due to miscommunicated information, saving time and unnecessary costs.

  1. Which languages do we need our documents translated into?

You can determine language needs based on the demographics of your organization’s service area. The Office of Civil Rights states that written translation of essential documents is necessary for limited-English-speaking populations that meet one of the following population metrics (whichever is less):

        • Equal to or greater than five percent of the surrounding community, or
        • Reach over one thousand people

Section 1557 also requires that providers must “Post Notices of Nondiscrimination and signage explaining the availability of language services in the state’s top 15 non-English languages.” The Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Civil Rights have posted the top fifteen non-English languages in each state. Voiance provides clients with signage that meets these requirements.

  1. Which documents need to be translated?

Providing translated documents can mitigate many problems that cause health organizations to waste unnecessary time and costs. The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimates that avoidable readmissions cost Medicare $17 billion a year because patients do not:

        • Understand their diagnosis
        • Know which medications to take and when
        • Receive important information or test results
        • Schedule a follow-up appointment with their doctor
        • Get adequate care at home

The U.S. Department of Justice recommends assessing all documents for vital and non-vital information, which can be determined by the impact they could have on people’s lives, including the consequences if they are not provided accurately or in a timely manner. Examples of vital written materials may include:

        • Consent and complaint forms;
        • Intake forms;
        • Notices advising LEP persons of free language assistance;
        • Written notices of eligibility criteria, rights, denial, loss, or decreases in benefits or services, actions affecting parental custody or child support, and other hearings;
        • And more.

It is also important to note that translation is usually a one-time fee for unlimited access to a document. Unlike paying for each spoken interpretation session, once an essential document is translated, your organization does not have to pay for each use.

Learn More

Further exploring these guidelines can help you select the best LSP for your organization’s specific language needs. The right LSP will be able to help you develop a plan specific to your organization.

To learn more about how Voiance can help you develop a compliant language access program, connect with us by email at, or fill out a connect form at

Free COVID-19 Translated Materials

We are committed to partnering with you, and have developed several language access resources for your use. You can find them available for free download here.

If you have specific COVID-19 documents for translation or if you would like to learn more, please contact us at

Topics: Language Services, Translation, Medical Documents to Translate

Written by Nicole Coen