Multicultural Resources
Notice of Availability of Free Language Assistance Services

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services is committed to providing services that are accessible to people who have Limited English Proficiency (LEP). To LEP individuals seeking services from DHHS, qualified interpreters are available (at no cost to the client) to help communicate with the Department. Important documents are being identified and gradually translated into the predominant languages spoken in Maine.

The Department of Health and Human Services Language Access Policy is available on the Department’s web site at For more information, please contact Julia Trujillo Luengo, Director at 207-797-2426 or

Need Interpretation Services?

If you are a State of Maine Employee click here.

If not, click here

Interpreting Introduction

Definitions show/hide

Interpreting: Receiving a spoken message in one language and delivering it in another. Not as simple as it sounds, interpreting is a complex process that requires a high degree of linguistic, cognitive and technical skills.

Translating: The process of changing written messages from one language to another.

Consecutive: A style of interpretation that requires the interpreter to listen for manageable chunks of information, i.e.: ask question, interpret question, wait for answer, and interpret answer.

Simultaneous: Interpretation delivered nearly instantaneously after the original message. Rarely occurs: Interpreter must wait to hear and understand before interpreting.

Why is Effective Communication Important? show/hide

  • The provider/client relationship is built through communication.
  • When qualified interpreters are not provided, there may be serious negative consequences.
  • Serious illnesses may be misdiagnosed, minimized or ignored.
  • Informed consent is not possible
  • Unnecessary medical tests and procedures may be ordered.
  • Necessary medical tests and procedures may not be ordered.
  • Medications may be taken incorrectly.
  • Appointments may be missed.
  • Written applications and notices regarding important services and benefits are often incomprehensible, and basic human needs such as food, heat, housing and health and human services may be delayed or denied.
  • People may be illegally evicted from their housing with no hope of defending themselves.
  • Parents accused of child abuse or neglect cannot defend themselves or become reunited with their children.
  • People under arrest have no way of understanding their rights or the judicial system.
  • Basic safety procedures and instruction in the workplace are incomprehensible.
  • Injured or ill workers cannot explain their symptoms or the cause of the injury or illness, cannot complete necessary paperwork or submit documentation, and cannot defend themselves in the workers compensation process.
  • Untrained staff, friends, family members used as “ad hoc” interpreters usually have no training in ethics, confidentiality, the skill of professional interpretation, or knowledge of concepts and terminology, commonly mis-communicate critical information, and may view their role as an unwelcome unpaid burden.
  • Confidentiality may not be observed.
  • Children used as interpreters are exposed to and burdened with confidential and inappropriate information.
  • LEP patients cannot freely express sensitive concerns, complaints, and questions when family members or friends are asked to interpret.
  • LEP clients who become embarrassed, angry, or inhibited because they can’t communicate with their caregiver may routinely delay or avoid care.

When Qualified Interpreters Are Not Used...
(Maine Horror Stories We Wish We Hadn't Heard...)

  • A newly arrived middle aged immigrant woman was involuntarily committed to a mental institution without any understanding of the criteria for her admittance, the length of her confinement, or any opportunity to participate in her therapy process. For three days she had no idea where her children were or who was taking care of them. When she became upset and angry, she was put in an anger management group.
  • A newly arrived refugee woman endured an extremely painful biopsy without any pain medication. She believed she couldn’t ask for pain medication and was too embarrassed to ask for an interpreter.
  • A seven year old was asked to tell his mother that her fetus had died in utero.
  • A frightened and very ill elderly immigrant woman spent two weeks in a hospital in excruciating pain but was unable to communicate her symptoms or her most basic personal needs or ask for pain medication.
  • Hospital staff used the abuser’s best friend to interpret for the abused woman.

MaineCare Reimburses medical services providers for the full cost of interpreting services! 
As of 9/15/03, MaineCare (formerly known as Medicaid) will now reimburse providers of MaineCare-covered services to patients/clients who have MaineCare for the full cost they incur when hiring interpreters, both spoken languages and sign language.

The medical services provider must document the qualifications of the interpreter, and have the interpreter sign a Code of Ethics for each interpreted encounter.

This increase in reimbursement removes the cost barrier for medical providers to making their services accessible to those with MaineCare.

Please spread the word to the medical community and the various linguistic communities here in Maine.  The full MaineCare Benefits Manual can be found on line at:

Scroll down to section 1.06-3 Interpreter Services, and the Code of Ethics is in the Appendix at the end of the document