The Language Testing and Certification - LTC program provides the following services:
- Develop systems, methods, procedures and policies to certify DSHS bilingual employees, applicants for DSHS bilingual positions, contracted interpreters and translators, and licensed agency personnel.
- Set and maintain qualification standards for DSHS bilingual positions, interpreters, and translators across languages.
- Administer language proficiency testing to certify/authorize DSHS bilingual employees, applicants for bilingual positions, contracted interpreters, contracted translators, and licensed agency personnel.
- Provide consultation to the department in establishing DSHS policies regarding the quality of language services to Limited English Proficient - LEP clients.
- Manage the roster of certified interpreters and translators; manage the roster of authorized interpreters.
LTC Program History
In 1991, the Department of Social and Health Services - DSHS in Washington State initiated an effort to certify its bilingual staff, social service and medical interpreters, and translators working for DSHS throughout its many divisions and programs. This effort was the culmination of lawsuits and civil rights complaints brought against DSHS for not providing equal access to services for Limited English Proficient - LEP clients. As part of a consent decree, DSHS agreed not only to provide (and pay for) interpreters for clients, but also to ensure the quality of interpreter services provided. DSHS chose to ensure quality through the development and administration of standardized tests.
The Language Testing and Certification program - LTC was created to develop systems, methods, procedures, and policies in carrying out the department's legal commitment. State laws (RCW 41.56.030, 41.56.113, 41.04.810, 43.01.047, and 74.04.025) requiring the department to provide language services to its LEP clients and to certify and authorize its language access providers were each amended and enacted during the 2010 legislative session.
The tests developed by LTC aim to measure both language proficiency in English and a second language and interpreting/translation skills. DSHS language certification is currently available in eight languages: Spanish, Vietnamese, Russian, Cambodian, Laotian, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese Chinese, and Korean. Authorization screening tests are also available in all other languages.
Five types of tests were created to evaluate the skills of five categories of people: DSHS employees with bilingual assignments, licensed agency personnel whose agency provides services to DSHS under contract (such as mental health and substance abuse program workers), contracted translators providing written translation services to DSHS programs, contracted interpreters providing oral interpretation services to DSHS social service programs, and contracted interpreters providing oral interpretation services to DSHS clients in medical settings.
For more information about different types of LTC tests, please consult the Examination Manual (Word).
No test fees are applicable to DSHS employees and new recruits for DSHS positions requiring bilingual skills. A modest fee is charged to contracted interpreters and translators for each test attempt. For specific information about test fees, please consult the Test Fee Schedule in the Examination Manual (Word).