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UB Web Management

Transforming UB’s digital communications through process and tools

Accessibility, Copyright and Privacy Compliance

Important considerations for our websites.

On this page:


We expect that all UBCMS websites will be in compliance with UB policies. If you have questions about accessibility, please consult the UB Accessibility website (also linked from our site-wide footer.)

As a public university, the University at Buffalo adheres to state and federal mandates regarding universal accessibility. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (federal ADA website), specifically Section 508, as well as parallel state regulations require all significant elements of a website to be fully accessible. Here accessibility refers to the design of services for people with visual, physical or cognitive impairments. Accessible practice ensures unassisted direct access and compatibility with assistive technology such as a screen reader.

Audit your Web pages for overall accessibility compliance using the WAVE tool.

_ audio (captions)

Captioning is essential for making audio content such as podcats accessible for individuals with hearing impairments.

Additional Resources

_ documents

Electronic documents must be accessible with the use of assistive technology and presented in a format that is clear and well-organized whether they are embedded or linked from your Web page (e.g. through the File Download component).

Additional Resources

_ embedded or third party content

When you include external content using the External Embed or HTML Snippet components it must comply with accessibility mandates.

Similarly, third party sites or systems must also be accessible. You may need to ask vendors to explain how their products are accessible, test for accessibility, and include accessibility assurances in purchase agreements.  

Additional Resources

_ font size and contrast

Accessibility includes the legibility of text on our pages.  The font sizes and the level of contrast between text and background colors must be great enough so people with poor eyesight can read the words.

UBCMS system-wide fonts are Web-optimized and our new Brand colors are optimized to meet ADA standards (more about our new brand palette).

_ headings

Headings, provided by the UBCMS Title component, provide structure to the content on your Web pages. They break up your content into meaningful sections, define its hierarchical structure and provide handy anchors for deep linking or the On This Page component. calls this semantic structure. Done effectively, this structure allows humans, screen readers and automated search engines to easily digest your page.

  • Do not use Title components solely for visual results. They should be used as section headings.
  • Do not use bold text formatting to give the visual appearance of headings.
  • Every page should have one top level H1 heading.
    • For UBCMS home pages without a suitable Title component, the main site Header can serve (see Page Properties).
  • Do not choose heading levels merely because 'they look better.'
  • Descend through the levels or ascend back up and do not skip over heading levels..
    • For example,
      • H1, then H2, then H3... is ok.
      • H1, H2, H3, then H2... is ok.
      • H1 then H3... is NOT ok.
    • For example,
      • H1
        • H2
          • H3
          • H3
        • H2
          • H3

Additional resources

_ images ('alt text')

Images on Web pages must be fully accessible to screen readers. In practical terms, that means each UBCMS image must be accompanied by 'Alt Text'.  Short for 'alternative text', this descriptive information allows people who cannot see the image to understand what they are missing.

Best practices:

  • Clearly describe that the person cannot see.
  • Be as concise as possible.
  • Do not begin "picture of..." or "portrait of...." This will be supplied by the screen reader.
  • If adjacent text (like a photo caption) clearly describes the image, you can safely check 'This image does not require alt text.'

Alt Text can be added to these areas:

Master Class Resources

Additional resources

Audit your Web pages for Alt Text compliance using the Image Accessibility Bookmarklet.

There are a variety of accessibility concerns about links, and here are some best practices:

  • Links should make sense out of context.
    • Avoid non-informative phrases like "read more." Screen readers may group all of your links together as a list.
  • Be concise.
    • A link that says "click here to access today's weather" could be shortened to "today's weather."
  • Avoid repetitive links which overload the user.
    • Avoid multiple links on one page that all go to one other site.
    • Replace with deep links to the matching content, or one master link to that other site.
  • Be sure your text clearly matches the content that will be found on the linked page.
    • If this is not easily possible, outreach to the other site to discuss a compromise that will meet both of your needs.
  • Whenever possible, link directly to the most relevant content on the target site by using deep links or anchors (#abc).
  • Links should never be empty, which can be very confusing for keyboard and screen reader users.
    • The UBCMS gives us a lot of protection against this issue, but be careful with third party embedded code.
  • Use text and not the URL itself to label the link.
    • URLs are not very 'readable', especially for a screen reader, and also do not provide much context for where the link will take the reader.

Additional resources

_ table headings

Tables that are used to portray data must have clearly identifed headers. This is done by adjusting the Table component settings. (Most tables in the UBCMS have this use.)

Additional resources

_ video (captions)

You must add Alt Text to each Video (YouTube) component

For the UBCMS Video (YouTube) component, we have added Alt Text to meet accessibility concerns for our websites, including supporting screen readers that are trying to 'read' the thumbnail image/play button that is shown for each video.

You must add captions to your YouTube videos

Videos displayed using the Video (YouTube) and Video (YouTube Gallery components must also be made accessible to those who cannot see or hear them, which requires captioning and audio descriptions, as well as an accessible player.

What should we do for our own YouTube portfolio?

To model best practice, University Communications is reviewing all videos that we manage directly (those placed on the UBCommunications YouTube channel). For these videos, we are taking appropriate action, including:

  • Working with our video production providers to file disputes with YouTube.
  • Replacing music in the videos.
  • Removing videos from our webpages and YouTube channels, as necessary; e.g. the 'UB Points of Pride' video will be removed as of May 19, 2014.

Additionally, starting University Communications will contacting UB owners of videos that are embedded on or linked to from UB’s top-level web pages to affirm there are no copyright flags on the videos.

Each unit in the UBCMS should take similar steps to ensure that any communications assets (e.g., videos) they own, manage or have placed on their pages are not in violation.

If those videos are in violation, we expect channel owners to resolve any copyright disputes, replace video soundtracks with authorized or licensed music, or advise us that the video will be taken down and is no longer available for syndication. UB cannot afford to be associated with copyright infringement.

If your department has a YouTube channel or is the owner/manager of videos on YouTube, University Communications strongly recommends that you take these steps, as soon as possible:

  • Go to your YouTube page and check for Copyright Notices in “Video Manager” (see screen shots below)
    • Remarks to the right of the “Edit” button will detail the infringement
  • If you see a copyright notification, please contact your video production provider for help

If your web pages link to videos owned/managed by other UB units:

  • Contact the owner of the video or YouTube Channel to confirm that their videos are not in violation of copyright
  • Work with them to either:
    • rectify the violation,
    • replace unauthorized music with licensed music, or
    • take the video down from YouTube and remove any links that appear on your web pages.

Master Class Resources

Additional resources

We expect that all UBCMS websites will be in compliance with UB policies. If you have questions about copyright in regards to your website, contact the CIO's Information Security Officer.

If you use images or video in your Web pages, please be sensitive to copyright regulations and only use those that you have produced yourself, were purchased or recorded for UB's express use, or that fall under the public domain. Read more on our Selecting Strong Visuals page, which includes suggested sources of copyright free images.

Also, please be careful not to use music in your videos that violates copyright. This will put you in legal jeopardy, plus YouTube is aggressively policing its videos and suspect videos are routinely blocked. Be sure to follow YouTube's guidelines when uploading new content (more details).


We expect that all UBCMS websites will be in compliance with UB policies. If you have questions about digital privacy in regards to your website, contact the CIO's Information Security Officer.

Written consent is REQUIRED if the subject matter contains minors or patients in any health care situation. Otherwise, permission is NOT NEEDED to use images of UB students and employees, or of members of the public who are on UB's campuses. However, if the subject specifically requests their image not be used, you must comply.

_ regulated private data

No sensitive data can be collected or transmitted through UBCMS or Formstack forms or held in any files on a UBCMS website, even in a secure area, without special permission by the CIO's Information Security Office.

Sensitive data includes Regulated Private Data (e.g. Social Security numbers (SSN), credit cards), Personally Identifable Information (e.g. date/place of birth) or Student Education Record Data (anything beyond our online public directory).  

Learn more:  

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