Accessibility Editorial Guidelines for YouTube

Aug 1, 2012
USAgov YouTube Channel


USAGov and USAGov en Español (formerly known as use social media to make government information easy for people to find, access, and use. Among the essential tools we use are videos, which we host on USAGov’s YouTube and USAGov en Español’s YouTube channels.

We are always looking for opportunities to feature and leverage important government information, by posting videos from various government agencies. We welcome and invite all government agencies to collaborate with us on providing useful and relevant information to the public. We also depend on agencies to help attract a large and diverse audience.

With these goals in mind, we developed the following editorial guidelines as a roadmap for producing and submitting videos. These guidelines agree with the principles and best practices that guide our channels.

General Guidelines

Our videos should be:

  • Useful, relevant, and/or interesting
  • Easy to understand
  • In plain language

When sharing video content, most of the following should be answered with a resounding “YES.” Is the content something that:

  • Someone can apply to improve their lives right now?
  • Will help someone make an informed decision?
  • You would share with your own friends and family?
  • Is relevant to a wide audience (it is a public service and is useful for the everyday person)?

Source Requirements

The videos we post:

  • Must be from a government agency and feature content relevant to our audience.
    • Exceptions might be made if the content provides critical information that is not available by any government entity at the time (for example, during an emergency).
  • Must be shared through an existing government YouTube channel.

Content Best Practices

To provide helpful content with a neutral tone:

  • Messaging must contain public service information and should relate to our audience. The categories listed under our YouTube channels’ playlists adhere to our websites taxonomy which is organized according to our audience’s needs (see USAGov’s channel and USAGov en Español’s channel).
  • Videos should aim for powerful messages that run no longer than 10 minutes
  • Avoid politically-charged intonations, self-or agency-promoting language (e.g., discussing the agency over delivering a public service message).

Videos produced for USAGov en Español should follow these language-specific guidelines:

  • Must be in Spanish. English videos may be featured on the USAGov en Español channel in exceptional circumstances and will be decided on a case-by-case basis.
  • Speaker(s) and actors(s) must be proficient in Spanish, preferably native, and clearly convey message points.
  • Spanish must be neutral U.S. or international Spanish (such as CNN en español).
  • Captions must be in Spanish and synchronized with the audio.

Accessibility Requirements for Producing Videos

The videos on our channels must conform to Section 508 and accessibility best practices. In short, agencies:

  • Must provide synchronized captions in the language spoken in the video;
  • Must publish a transcript written in the language spoken in the video;
  • Should include audio description tracks, if required by Section 508 guidelines; and,
  • Must provide a link to the video on an accessible platform (such as an agency website for example).

Video producers should follow the requirements from the U.S. Access Board (including standards for software applications, video and multimedia requirements, and general website requirements) and guidelines from

Other Resources