25 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 302 2021 5. Captioning All videos, livestreaming, and other multimedia on web pages or provided in other ways (such as teleconferencing via Zoom, Skype, or Microsoft Teams) must be captioned. Captioning, as a technical concept, is not hard, and captioning of video and television shows has been done for nearly 50 years. Recent legal cases against universities have brought attention to captioning. What changed during the pandemic is the greatly increased demand for captioning at universities and libraries, which had a greatly increased demand for captioning videos, course materials, and livestreaming events, but often faced two challenges, related to budget and capacity. Due to an overall increase in expenses, many academic units at many different universities reportedly pushed back on human captioning, and instead wanted to use automated (AI-based) captioning, because it’s less expensive (and in many cases, free).20 However, the quality of automated captioning is much lower than professional, human captioning. And even when there was the desire and the budget to professionally caption a video, there was often an inability to get a video captioned within a reasonable timeframe. Hiring someone to do live (real-time captioning) seemed to be the most challenging, with universities reporting that their usual vendors were unable to provide live human captioning. Finding ASL interpreters available for real-time work was equally challenging. One university described how when they started using automated captioning, they found that it was insufficient for their needs and had to switch to human captioning midway through courses.21 Whenever possible, human captioning is always preferable to automated captioning, especially in content where technical or complex terminology is present, where automated captioning is even less effective. 6. Creating a Stronger Infrastructure for Digital Accessibility As we approach two years since the pandemic started, universities and research libraries have often not created new policies and processes to address the situations that may arise. For instance, if there are
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