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. Consent Forms
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 for each version are provided below.
Consent Forms for Extension
Consent Forms for Extension and Partners
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
(Includes questions asked during the All-Colleague Exchange May 10, 2023 and Staff Webinar June 20, 2023)
Update June 23, 2023
1. Can minors give their consent or do we need a parent/guardian to give consent to use a minor's image, video, or testimonial?
Minors cannot give consent themselves. A parent or legal guardian must give written consent.
2. Is the photo release in 4HOnline enough? Or do they need to sign an additional agreement?
Most often, yes. Before taking the video, image or testimonial, evaluate whether the situation warrants a conversation with the person (adult or minor’s guardian) to discuss how you would like to use the image, etc.
3. If we only use first names for minors or adults, do we need consent to use their testimonial? What is considered an anonymous testimonial? If we were to say "3rd Grade Teacher" is that anonymous? If we were to say "3rd Grade Teacher at [insert name here] Elementary School" is that considered named?
Yes, you can identify someone by their first name and when you identify a minor, you need consent for any type of use. If it is an adult and you use their first name, you must have written consent if using it for marketing, advertising, or donation solicitation. If it is an adult and you use their first name and it is for general stakeholder communication or internal use, then you do not need written consent. The question to ask yourself is: How easy is it to identify the person. Using "classroom teacher" is probably the most anonymous.
4. For video/image, do we need consent if it is not showing a person's face, only back of head or they are not identifiable because of distance or angle of photo? Could we blur the faces of someone without consent?
If the image is of an adult and you are using it for stakeholder communication or internal use, then you do not need written consent. If it is an adult and you will be using it for marketing, advertising, or donation purposes, you do need written consent even if it is from behind or at an angle that makes it challenging to identify the person. If it is a minor, and you can identify them in the video/image (even from behind or without seeing their face), you need written consent. Discuss with your supervisor or program manager if the video/image is such that it is very difficult to identify the individual and has a minimal chance of causing harm.
Per UW Policy 203, we are not allowed to manipulate photos. Blurring would be altering the photo.
5. What if we get a testimonial, and consent to use from the individual. Later, we find out that they have controversial views that they voice in social media or at Town Hall meetings. How do we handle these scenarios?
Discuss with your supervisor and program manager about continuing to use the testimonial.
6. Have the photos in the University Photo Library been cleared for all uses?
No. UW Madison photographers take and use these photos with the intent for news and editorial needs and therefore operate under journalistic code of conduct. If the image or video is of an adult and being used for stakeholder communication or internal use, you may use it without written consent. If the image or video is of a minor, you cannot use it because you don’t have written consent. The UW Policy 203 (Photography) stipulates that if you intend to use the image or video for advertising and marketing, you need to contact University Communications. None of the images may be modified, altered, or used in any way that changes or misrepresents the photograph’s content or overall context.
7. What about when the school already has implied consent and the image is from them?
Schools will usually seek written consent from parents and legal guardians each school year. You must check with schools that a written consent is on file for the minor and that it includes the UW as an entity that my use the image. It should also include the type of recorded medium you are using (e.g., video) and for the purpose you’ll use it (e.g., marketing). Implied consent is not written consent.
8. How do we record-keep when schools we work with have the consent forms?
There is no specific expectation of how to record that you are using a school’s consent form. Best practice would be to ask for a copy of the consent form, or an email communication from the school confirming they have written consent and that images, videos can be used by Extension for stakeholder communication and internal use.
9. Is there a file system people use to store photos to know that they have appropriate permissions?
The planning and reporting portal allows you to upload your images, and indicate whether you have consent from the minors and/or adults in the image. However, you need to manage your consent forms separately. Some programs (like 4-H) have systems for this. Please work with your program manager regarding your program's approach to manage the consent forms. It is the responsibility of the person (or the program if they have created a system) who holds the image, video, testimonial to retain the consent form for 7 years or destroyed when the video/image/testimonial is destroyed.
10. If we have community events hosted by Extension and partners, does the partner's consent apply for my program?
Not necessarily. You will need to review the consent form and make sure that Extension is either named specifically, or in such a way that would include an entity such as us (e.g., agency, university, public institution). Review the consent form to make sure it includes the ways in which you want to use the images or video (e.g., social media, print, advertising). Compare it to Extension’s consent form in the Handbook and see if it includes similar allowances. Ask the Policy Advisor to review if unsure.
11. For adult participants in a program workshop or conference, could you put a statement in the registration form that states "by participating in this program you are authoring the use of photos taken at the event for promotional or reporting purposes to our stakeholders" or hang a poster at the entry?
We would advise a different approach. First, think about how you want to use the resulting photos. If it will be for stakeholder communication and internal use, you do not need written consent from adults. In your registration material, you could say that you are planning on taking photos and for what use. Then, during the event, ask before snapping the photo. If you think you might want to use the photo for seeking donations, or marketing a future program that will have a fee, you will need to get written consent from the adults and can do that either through your electronic/hard copy registration materials, or on site during the event.
Posting a sign at the entrance to an event stating they authorize use of their photo when they enter is not considered consent. We can’t use a sign as a way to get consent.
12. If a teacher sends me a glowing email about a program, does that count as a release?
No, it does not count as a release. You may use the testimonial anonymously. If you want to use their name (or even their school, because that may identify them), you need to ask them if they are allowing you to use the testimonial including their preferred name, and they need to share with you in writing that they are allowing for that use (this could be, for example, via email).
13. I have many positive comments from students from an evaluation. At the top of the survey, it notes that "the results of this survey will be shared with those who work with the program and our funding partners. Completion of this survey implies your consent to participate in this evaluation process.”
It is encouraged and best practice to inform survey participants how their information is used. However, minors cannot give consent. This being said, if you use their quote anonymously, you do not need written consent from their guardian. If you use their name, you do need written consent from their guardian.
14. When we record a zoom session, we are capturing their image on the video. Do we need this permission for any participants?
No, you don’t need consent for capturing the recording. Our policies are focusing on the use part, not on the capturing. If you use a screenshot or video from a recorded zoom, you will need permission depending on whether a minor/adult and how you’ll use the recording.
15. Are Extension public webpages for Programs considered stakeholder communication?
Generally, yes. However, pages that are doing advertising/marketing of for-pay programming, or are seeking donations are different. Videos, images, and testimonials on those pages will need consent.
16. If the consent form says UW Extension received consent, can any program in Extension use the image?
Yes. Best to check with the program that holds the consent form if there are any issues to be aware of.
17. Does the generic consent form allow us to submit the photo to a newspaper?
No. We should treat the newspaper like we would any other partner. The newspaper, partner, other entity would have to have received consent as well. We can add them to our consent form, or the newspaper could directly ask the minor/adult for their consent to use the photo.
18. Are published pictures as in a journal a stakeholder communication or an advertisement?
Pictures used in academic journals are considered stakeholder communication, not advertisement. It is best to check with the IRB for use of photographs based on your research protocols.
19. If a photo is used in an educational factsheet or a presentation that is given to an audience, do we need a consent form?
This generally is considered stakeholder communication or internal use and therefore you do not need a consent form for an adult. Whenever you use a photo of a minor you need consent from their guardian or parent. If there is any fee for the program or solicitation for donation, you need consent for an adult or minor.
20. May we re-share photos from an Extension program that a partner already took of participants and posted on Facebook? Example: a School shared photos of minors during a nutrition program and tagged us in the photo, may we re-share?
Yes, because the picture originated with the entity that received consent from the parent or guardian and have been tagged by the entity.
21. If someone sends us a photo or video, do I need written consent to use it?
If you will be using it for marketing purposes, or it has a minor in it, yes you need consent. If you are communicating via email, you can cut and paste the consent form into an email and ask them to confirm via the message that they are giving consent.
22. Can we get consent via an electronic registration form where there is no actual signature? Do we need to print these off?
Yes, you can receive consent by including the consent language in the registration form and asking the participant to acknowledge by clicking/filling in a dot, and typing their name and date. You do not need to print these off but will need to have record of it.
- DLT Approved: April 13, 2023
- Revised - Added FAQ, Guidance Video, Consent Forms: August 3, 2023
- Review Dates: April 13, 2024 or sooner if Office of Youth Protection develops youth recordings guidance or policy.