Two issues that often arise when creating print, video, and online content are copyright protection and ADA compliance. Both are legal issues.


Web publication does not ensure any specific piece of information is public domain. Copyright should be the default assumption. Since 1989, published material—printed matter or web-based, including photographs—is considered copyrighted whether it has a copyright notice or not. A copyright is, simply put, the legal right of authors, photographers, etc., to control the use of their own creative works.

Using an image that is copyrighted can and often does lead to fines as high as several thousand dollars. It is possible for a copyright holder to find illegal uses of his or her work through a reverse image search like TinEye.

Do not use any image that you have not created or paid for yourself. If you have questions, please contact the Office of Marketing & Communications.


ADA Compliance

In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. Under Section 508, agencies must give people with disabilities access to information that is comparable to access available to others.

For general issues relating to disability services, please visit CGU’s disability services page.

While not a comprehensive list of guidelines, the following best practices will help ensure that your content creation and distribution is done in a manner consistent with ADA accessibility principles.


Why is compliance important?
  • 6.4 million people in the United States have a visual disability
  • 10.5 million people in United States population have a hearing disability
  • 20.9 million people in United States population have a ambulatory disability
  • 14.8 million people in United States population have a cognitive disability

That means that, on average, 13.2 million people in the United States have at least one disability that Section 508 is meant to help with.

[Source: Erickson, W., Lee, C., & von Schrader, S. (2012). 2010 Disability Status Report: United States. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Employment and Disability Institute (EDI).]


Email Compliance

When writing an email, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Make sure your content follows a logical order/structure
  • Use headings to separate important sections of content
  • Don’t hide information in images – critical content should be text-based
  • Make sure images use alt tags that textually describe the image for those who can’t view it
  • Make sure link text is meaningful: your links should give the user clear indication of what they are clicking on
  • Avoid center-aligned and justified text (difficult to read for those with dyslexia)

These guidelines ensure that if someone is unable to see images or formatting in your email, they will still have a comparable understanding of it.


Social Media Compliance

Social media compliance can be achieved with a few steps:

  • Avoid acronyms, abbreviations, and text message shortcuts
  • Limit the number of hashtags
  • Place hashtags and @mentions within or at the end of the tweet
  • Briefly describe attached images or videos, especially if you’re using a platform that doesn’t allow for alt tags or captioned video (e.g. Instagram)

Example of a compliant social media post: National Parks Service instagram post


Video Compliance

In addition to complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), adding video captions has been proven to improve attention, comprehension, and retention of video content as well as assist students whose first language is not English. Read article

For video compliance, there are strict best practice guidelines for creating ADA-compliant captions. Learn more about video compliance


Section 508 Compliance Resources

Email: HHS Email 508 Compliance Checklist

PDF Creation: WebAIM PDF Accessibility

Video, Audio & Social Media: Guidelines

Section 508 standards: IT Accessibility Laws and Policies

Design Issues: WebAIM Considering the User Perspective

Color Contrast Checker: WebAIM Color Contrast Checker