Government Video: Laws you need to follow

Government videos need to follow two main laws:

  • People with disabilities must be able to fully experience them, and
  • They must adhere to privacy laws

1. Making Video Accessible for People with Disabilities (Section 508)

Federal employees are required by law (Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973) to make the materials they create usable for people with disabilities. Section 508 applies to video as well. There are three main requirements for making a video 508 accessible. You must:

  • Create captions
  • Create an audio description of non–audio content in the video (example: Someone silently saluting an American flag)
  • Use a video player that people with disabilities can use

Making your video 508 compliant is an important step in creating a government video.

2. Privacy

Government employees must follow the law in regards to privacy issues. Privacy law focuses largely on three issues:

  1. Identification—If people can be identified in your video, even if they are in the background, by their face, clothing or distinguishing features (e.g. tattoos), this becomes a privacy issue. Get them to fill out a video-release-form (MS Word, 24.5 KB, 1 page, April 2012).
  2. Dissemination—You can film nearly anyone you want so long as no one else sees the video. Putting the video on a website, however, makes the video public and raises privacy concerns.
  3. Minors—Children under 18 cannot appear on a video without their parent’s permission. A parent or guardian can give consent for the minor to be filmed via a video-release-form (MS Word, 24.5 KB, 1 page, April 2012).

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