Topics Map > Programming Policy & Guidance > 3.2 Planning & Reporting
Topics Map > Employee Handbook > 1.2 Policy Statements & Employee Guidance > 1.2.8 Guidance for Video, Images, and Testimonials of Participants in Extension Activities
Topics Map > Operational Support Resources > 4.3 Communications & Stakeholder Engagement > 4.3.5 Video & Photography
Topics Map > Operational Support Resources > 4.3 Communications & Stakeholder Engagement > 4.3.4 Photo Release Forms
Guidance for Video, Images, and Testimonials of Participants in Extension Activities
The guidance in this article explains how staff can use video, images, and testimonials of program participants. It covers allowed use of recordings of either youth or adults; how to obtain consent for use of the video, images and testimonials; and best practices for use.
The purpose of this guidance is to explain how staff can use video, images, and testimonials of program participants. The guidance covers allowed use of recordings of either youth or adults; how to obtain consent for use of the video, images and testimonials; and best practices for use. Extension staff use video, images, and testimonials in a variety of ways such as reporting to funders, communicating to partners, and in our programming.
We are responsible and accountable for any video, image, or testimonial we use. This guidance is meant to guide staff as they think about their programming and before they ever actually take a video, image or testimonial and decide to use it. In general, it is prudent to never assume you have someone's consent to use their image or words. Rather, we should ask for it. The philosophy behind this guidance is grounded in respect for our participants and seeks to consider their interests.
It is best practice to always first consider a person’s privacy. For example, think of the following types of programming: workshops on financial insecurity; exercising during a physical fitness class; business assistance classes; offerings for vulnerable audiences (e.g. (formerly) incarcerated); and scenarios when we work with a disadvantaged population (e.g., minorities, at risk, low income, home insecurity). Can we assume that the individuals attending these types of programs want their image used without their consent? Even in community events or less sensitive programming, many adults do not want to have their image used.
Determining whether you need consent or not to use a video or image of an adult in these situations is very circumstantial and will benefit from erring on the side of asking for written consent from the person.
Recording: includes all but not limited to photograph, image, testimonial, video and similar.
Consent: for the purposes of this document, consent means active written consent where the adult or guardian acknowledges we can use their recording.
Video, Image: these media are treated the same in this guidance.
Testimonial: written or verbal statement provided by participant and used in written format.
Minor: a person under the age of 18. (Youth are minors five to 18 years old.)
Parent or Legal Guardian: person who has legal authority to make decisions relevant to the interests of the minor.
This guidance is for all faculty, staff, and volunteers in all Extension programs. It is to be used for recordings of both adults and minors.
Table of Contents
1. Guidance for use of videos and images
- Extension employees or volunteers may not use videos or images of program participants for personal reasons.
- To use videos or images from a MINOR participant, you always need to acquire written consent from a guardian.
- To use videos or images from an ADULT participant, you need to consider how the recording will be used and then determine whether you need consent.
- Determining whether you need consent to use a video or image of an adult can at times be very circumstantial and will benefit from erring on the side of asking for written consent from the person.
- Use the following categories to help you decide whether you are legally required to request an ADULT’S consent to use the video or image.
A – “Stakeholder Communication and Internal Use”
You do not need written consent from ADULTS if you use the image/video for stakeholder communication and internal use. This includes reporting, since the reporting platform is built to support stakeholder communication (e.g., counties, federal agencies, statewide reports, associations, local citizens). Other typical stakeholder communication includes: presentations at internal and external meetings (e.g., conference presentations, county board meetings), and communicating and sharing information about programs to the public or partners (e.g., social media, websites, impact reports for county boards). (Please note: You always need written consent from a MINOR's guardian if you use an image/video for stakeholder communication or for internal use.)
B - “Advertising”
You always need written consent from ADULTS when using a recording for advertising. Advertising material can be considered promotional or marketing in nature when we charge a fee for membership or fee for the program or event (e.g., Strong Bodies or 4-H flyer for announcing and promoting program sign-up). Videos and images used to solicit donations are considered advertising as well. Even though we are part of state government and not for profit, if we use the video/image for advertising a program that has a fee, we must obtain consent. Both UW Policy (203) and state statute require written consent if using a person’s likeness for marketing and advertising. (Please note: You always need written consent from a MINOR's guardian if you use an image/video for advertising.)
(See section 5 for example scenarios like using images taken at the county fair.)
2. Guidance for use of testimonials
- When using a testimonial, you need to decide whether or not there is a strong need to attribute and use the person’s name.
- If you want to attribute and name a MINOR’s testimonial, you always need to acquire written consent from a guardian.
- Use the following categories to help you decide whether you are legally required to request consent to use a person’s name with their testimonial.
A – “Stakeholder Communication and Internal Use”
If you keep the MINOR or ADULT testimonial anonymous, then you do not need to get written consent when using it for stakeholder communication or our internal use. If you want to quote the MINOR and use their name, you need to acquire the guardian’s written consent. If you want to quote the ADULT, and use their name, you do not need to request written consent. However, do not assume the adult is ok with the use and best practice is to ask for written consent.
B - “Advertising”
If you keep the MINOR or ADULT testimonial anonymous, then you do not need to get written consent when using it for advertising. If you want to quote the MINOR and ADULT and use their name, you need to acquire written consent from the guardian or the adult.
3. How to request consent
Before you even make a recording, assess whether Extension has received written consent. For state-wide or standardized/member-based youth programs, first check with the Program Manager to see if a video/image/testimonial consent form is part of the registration/enrollment. Additionally, confirm that the consent given includes the type of information you want to use (e.g., images, testimonials, recordings). Templates with the sample language below are provided in English, Spanish and Hmong on the OAIC web.
Sample language for adult participants:
I recognize and acknowledge that the University may record my participation and appearance on any recorded medium including, but not limited to video, audio, photos (collectively, “recordings”) for use in any form (including, but not limited to print, websites, blogs, internet, and social media). I authorize such recording and release the University to use my name, likeness, voice, and biographical material to exhibit or distribute such recordings in whole or in part without restrictions or limitations for any educational or promotional purpose.
*(requires signature line and date)
Sample language for youth participants:
I recognize and acknowledge that the University may record my child's participation and appearance on any recorded medium including, but not limited to video, audio, photos (collectively, “recordings”) for use in any form (including, but not limited to print, websites, blogs, internet, and social media). I authorize such recording and release the University to use my child's name, likeness, voice, and biographical material to exhibit or distribute such recordings in whole or in part without restrictions or limitations for any educational or promotional purpose.
*(requires name of minor, signature line for parent/guardian and date)
Common situations when working with multiple partners and requesting consent:
- Can I use one consent form for all the organizations involved in the programming? Yes. Often, we are partnering with other organizations and agencies and having one consent form for all entities is most simple. To do this, revise the language in the sample language above to include the names of the other organizations.
- If an organization I am working with (e.g., school, club) has received consent from the minor or adult, can I use the image? Yes, but you must confirm that they received consent for the type of recorded medium you are using (e.g., video) and for the use in the format you’ll use it in (e.g., social media or website). If we use the video/image for advertising, we must ask the participant to sign our consent form.
- If another organization or county asks to use our recording, we cannot give them the image. The organization will need to seek consent directly from the minor’s guardian or adult to use the video or image.
- Signed consent forms should be held by the program and retained either for seven years from the date of the consent or destroyed when the video/image/testimonial is destroyed. (See Extension records series #104000.)
4. Best practices for use of audio/visual materials and testimonials
Ensure that audio/visual recordings and testimonials do not expose participants to risks, for example:
- Avoid recordings that show minors in their homes. If you make screenshots or videos based on in-home Zoom calls, make sure that all backgrounds of minors in their homes are blurred. In general, blur minors’ names as well in any screenshots of video calls.
- Check all recordings for problematic objects or messages (e.g., alcohol, political paraphernalia, messages on clothing that conflict with Extension’s values etc.).
- Ensure that what was recorded will not cause harm for participants, their families, and others involved in the programming. This is particularly important when working with vulnerable groups and individuals. Contact your supervisor or the Office for Access, Inclusion, and Compliance if you are unsure – a second opinion is always helpful when making decisions with an ethical impact.
- To protect minors, do not post pictures in real time with locations on social media.
- If you do have written consent, assess if using a name is necessary in each given case. For example, you could just use first names, or initials. Your default should be to keep participants as anonymous as possible.
- Don’t assume that taking a picture from behind a minor will keep then anonymous. Many people can be identified from behind (e.g., hairstyle, skin color, size, clothing).
- It is best practice to inform participants if their answers in evaluations will be quoted or used as quotes/testimonials.
- It is best practice to always consider if testimonials, anonymous or not (from ADULTS and especially MINORS) could be harmful for a community or group of people.
5. Example Scenarios - To help put this guidance into practice
Scenario 1: Guardians have given written consent through program sign-up.
In this scenario, guardians have signed up their youth for Extension activities (for example, they sign them up as a 4-H member). In the sign-up form (see sample consent above) they agree to a broad waiver that spells out the types of information collected from youth, and how it will be used. Obtaining a broad waiver like this is the most efficient and well-documented approach.
You can then collect and use the video/image/testimonial as it was specified in the waiver.
Scenario 2: It is unknown whether a guardian has given written consent for our use of the recording of a minor.
In this scenario, you may be conducting an activity at a school, park, or other setting such as a county fair. There may be minors that are not part of an Extension program and you do not know if participants (minor or adults) have given written consent to use their image.
In this scenario you should not use the recording until you acquire the minor’s guardian’s written consent. This can be done after the program/event. You may use an adult’s video, image, or testimonial as described above in “A - Stakeholder Communication and Internal Use” without consent. However, if you intend to use the adult’s video, image, or testimonial for advertising purposes, you must request consent.
Related UW-Madison & Extension Policies & Guidance
This guidance has been reviewed by:
- Office of Legal Affairs
- Office of Youth Protection
- Division of Extension Associate Deans
- Extension Data Governance
Contact – Rebecca Diebel, Policy Advisor
- DLT Approved: April 13, 2023
- Review Dates: April 13, 2024 or sooner if Office of Youth Protection develops youth recordings guidance or policy.