Image of Library of Congress plaque

AST Supports Modernization of America’s Oldest Cultural Institution, The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress was the nation’s first cultural institution. Congress founded the organization with 6,487 books from Thomas Jefferson’s personal collection. Currently, curators accept more than 10,000 new resources each day.

Officials at the Library of Congress are now making accessibility a greater focus while preserving these cultural and historical assets and data. Through a key partnership with AST, the Library of Congress is meeting current accessibility standards and working to make its materials inclusive for everyone.

Making The Library of Congress Website Accessible

Like other government agencies and cultural institutions, the Library of Congress increased its online presence in recent years. For instance, the Library maintains an active website that offers a searchable catalog and digital collections. Many of the online resources come in audio or video formats.

To improve the accessibility of its online video and audio files, officials partnered with AST to make use of its professional captioning and transcription.

“Dedicating the time and resources to make our online videos accessible to persons who are hard of hearing was our first priority,” said Glenn Ricci, Multimedia Coordinator for the Information Technology Services Multimedia Group at the Library of Congress.

In addition to accessibility being the right thing to pursue, laws like Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 mandate that video and audio content on government sites is accessible, through the use of accommodations such as captions. While adhering to the law is critical, it’s not the only reason to offer access. AST’s captions make it possible for more people to use the information on library websites and further the educational efforts of these organizations.

Photograph of woman reading a book in a library

More Accessible Live & Virtual Events

The Library is offering more live virtual events, including webinars and lectures that the public can tune into from around the world. Accessibility laws apply to these event use cases as well. To address this need, AST’s live captioning service is connecting the Library to audiences globally, including participants with disabilities and non-native English speakers, who need and benefit from this tool to participate in real-time.

The Library is making “webcasts as accessible as possible, not just to meet Section 508 requirements, but to fulfill our mission to make our resources available to everyone,” Ricci said.

Additionally, Ricci explained that inquiries and requests from the public indicated that captioning video content and live events makes it easier for many people to engage, not just for those who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

Ricci’s experiences align with what studies indicate about the great benefits of captioning content to aid in viewer comprehension and information retention.

Photograph of the inside of the Library of Congress

Avoiding Backlogs & Making Archives Accessible

The Library of Congress’s partnership with AST extends beyond its current online videos and live events. Like many libraries across the country, the Library of Congress had large backlogs of older video and audio content that it needed to caption and update to meet modern accessibility standards.

This extensive effort includes captioning videos to allow better experiences for viewers onsite, while also preparing them for the Library’s online collection.

Ricci said he was pleasantly surprised that AST could supply accurate captions for a high volume of media clips in a matter of days when he anticipated the project would require months. By being able to scale its captioning efforts, the world’s largest library is now better able to spread its wealth of knowledge across the globe.

Libraries and government agencies throughout the US rely on AST’s professional captioning and transcription services to make their content accessible to diverse audiences. Contact us to learn more about how AST’s solutions can support your organization’s accessibility needs and tackle any content backlogs you may be facing.

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