R&D notes

Web accessibility in the executive branch, 2022

Jonathan Robert Pool

Inclusivity scores for 186 federal government web pages


A new analysis reveals wide variation in 186 United States federal government agencies’ compliance with web-accessibility law. That is not a surprise, since the required compliance monitoring every two years by the attorney general has not been taking place. As a result, federal website visitors—especially the elderly and disabled—experience unnecessary difficulty and failure. The analysis pinpoints thousands of specific improvements the agencies could make on their web pages.


United States federal government agencies are required by law to make their information technology, including websites, accessible, namely conforming to standards of disability-friendly, age-friendly, and otherwise inclusive design.

The attorney general is required to issue biennial reports on federal agencies’ compliance with this obligation. The next report is due in August 2022.

However, the attorney general never issued the mandatory 2014, 2016, 2018, or 2020 report. The 2012 report is the last one published. In June 2022, five U.S. senators complained about this failure to the attorney general.

Even the 2012 report, though over 45,000 words in length, did not do what the law requires. The report must contain information on … the state of Federal department and agency compliance. But the 2012 report describes only agencies’ claims about their own compliance. The attorney general summarized, but did not verify, those claims.

In June 2021, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation published Improving Accessibility of Federal Government Websites by Ashley Johnson and Daniel Castro. That report made up for some of the deficit in the attorney general’s reporting. The foundation tested three pages each of the 72 most popular federal executive-branch websites with Axe DevTools, an open-source accessibility software package created by Deque. Human testers, too, evaluated many of the home pages. Combining those tests, the report gave scores to the pages and concluded that 48% of the websites were less than fully compliant with accessibility standards.

Findings for 2022

In July 2022 I used the software packages Testaro and Testilo to test and score the home pages of federal executive agencies. The agencies included the same popular ones tested in 2021, but, because all federal websites, not only popular ones, are required to be accessible, I added more than a hundred other agencies catalogued by the Library of Congress, bringing the total to 186 agencies.

The tests included the same Deque tests used by Johnson and Castro in 2021, plus, for comprehensiveness, more tests, mostly from software packages created by IBM, Utah State University, Level Access, Siteimprove, and Squiz Labs, bringing the total to 1075 tests. Human testing was not performed, so the tests could not detect all of the accessibility problems detected in 2021, but thousands of problems were identified.

The results are shown in a table at the end of this page.

Some examples

The tests found accessibility problems even on the best-scoring pages. Here are examples from the top five pages:

The pages in the middle range of scores typically have deficiencies of many kinds. For example, the Peace Corps home page got failure reports or warnings of 58 types. One example is its failure on the spontaneous-motion test. Some disabilities make users vulnerable to disorientation or seizures if a web page contains uncontrollable motion. For maximum accessibility, nothing on a page would move until and unless the user asked for motion. But the Peace Corps home page, as soon as you open it, autoplays a succession of twelve video recordings. One of them even shows a hectic close-up of soccer players, shot with an unstable camera. The video playing continues for 35 seconds. And you cannot stop it, except by closing the page. In contrast, the Army home page offers a featured video but does not play it until you press the play button.

Soccer game
Peace Corps autoplay video
Video clip and play button
Army play-on-request video

The pages with the worst scores fail spectacularly on only one test, implying that by resolving a single class of problems an agency could drastically improve the score. For example, the Customs and Border Protection home page has a very high score on the log test, because, while being tested, it triggers hundreds of browser complaints about security errors, such as Refused to apply inline style because it violates the following Content Security Policy directive: "style-src-attr 'self'". Incorrect coding puts not only security but also accessibility at risk, because it may prevent a page from working as intended and may interfere with the special tools that some users with disabilities employ. Therefore, violations of technical standards, even when not strictly related to accessibility, contribute to a score.


This analysis reveals that many federal executive-branch websites have accessibility deficiencies in 2022. Not a single home page was found that could not be made more accessible.

But federal website home pages, even when they have accessibility problems, also exhibit helpful accessibility features, demonstrating that accessibility knowledge exists within the agencies and could be leveraged for website improvements.

Agencies differ greatly in website accessibility. There is a 78-to-1 ratio between the best and worst scores.

Automated tests, though not perfect and not complete, can discover and diagnose many accessibility defects at trivial cost. Therefore, the attorney general does not need a large budget in order to test the websites of federal agencies and report the results, instead of merely trusting agencies to assess themselves.

Test results

In the following table, the lower the score, the better. A score of 0 would indicate that a page passed all the tests. A perfect score is unlikely, though, because even suspected accessibility problems add small amounts to a score.

The first link on each row will take you to the page that was tested, and the second link goes to a detailed report explaining the page’s discovered or suspected defects and how the score was computed.

Accessibility scores of United States federal executive agencies, 2022
PageScore (lower is better)
National Mediation Board (NMB)202
Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB)206
Social Security Administration (SSA)306
National Agricultural Library332
Bureau of Engraving and Printing344
Office of Management and Budget (OMB)368
Department of Veterans Affairs370
Office of Justice Programs (OJP)383
Farm Credit Administration (FCA)384
Department of Energy Office of Scientific and Technical Information385
Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)393
American Battle Monuments Commission402
National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)429
Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB)434
DataWeb, US Trade and Tariff Data443
Coast Guard455
Department of Education461
Department of Justice (DOJ)475
Bureau of Transportation Statistics476
Transportation Security Administration499
Southwestern Power Administration502
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)507
Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)516
Indian Affairs517
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)529
Selective Service System (SSS)534
Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC)537
Rural Development542
National Telecommunications and Information Administration543
Department of Agriculture (USDA)544
National Technical Information Service (NTIS)555
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau572
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)574
The White House579
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)580
National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST)583
Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC)588
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)598
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)601
Food and Drug Administration609
Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes (OLHCHH)612
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)628
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE)630
Department of Energy (DOE)636
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)636
National Library of Education (NLE)640
U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team651
Citizenship and Immigration Services661
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services665
Office of Government Ethics (OGE)667
National Archives675
Defense Logistics Agency (DLA)675
National Council on Disability678
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency685
Department of Transportation (DOT)697
Health Resources and Services Administration704
Administration for Community Living719
Forest Service727
Federal Maritime Commission730
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)732
Federal Bureau of Prisons 737
US Postal Inspection Service739
Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)742
Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC)744
International Boundary & Water Commission753
National Ocean Service756
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)793
U.S. Embassy806
Bureau of Land Management807
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)838
Public and Indian Housing (PIH)838
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)844
Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)845
Department of Homeland Security (DHS)847
Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (NWTRB)875
Pantex Plant891
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)895
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention915
Small Business Administration (SBA)935
Y-12 National Security Complex935
Department of State Library950
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation956
Office of Investor Education and Advocacy970
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)976
National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC)977
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)982
Bureau of the Fiscal Service1000
National Institutes of Health (NIH)1001
Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission (FMSHRC)1004
Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R)1009
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)1014
Fish and Wildlife Service1014
Office of the Director of National Intelligence1021
National Security Agency (NSA)1023
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality1025
Agency for Global Media1028
International Trade Administration (ITA)1031
Economic Research Service1040
Farm Service Agency1070
Los Alamos National Laboratory1074
US Marshals Service (USMS)1077
National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)1089
Secret Service1091
Agricultural Research Service1095
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration1097
Department of Labor (DOL)1106
Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA)1125
United States Trade and Development Agency1129
Department of the Interior (DOI)1136
Bureau of Reclamation1140
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service1155
U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC)1160
United States International Trade Commission (USITC)1183
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)1192
National Park Service (NPS)1200
Institute of Education Sciences (IES)1205
National Center for Biotechnology Information1212
Office of Science1254
United States Agency for International Development (USAID)1263
Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN)1265
Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR)1267
Intelligence Careers1302
US Geological Survey (USGS)1330
National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)1337
Railroad Retirement Board (RRB)1360
Department of Defense (DOD)1374
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)1399
General Services Administration (GSA)1424
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)1435
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)1477
Federal Communications Commission (FCC)1511
Office of Personnel Management (OPM)1529
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory1532
National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC)1534
Natural Resources Conservation Service1552
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)1566
Voice of America (VOA)1622
U.S. Government Services and Information1625
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)1666
Patent and Trademark Office1682
National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)1688
United States Mint1723
Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)1735
Radio Free Asia1759
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System1796
Peace Corps1815
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)1847
Bureau of Justice Statistics1850
Savannah River Site1860
Federal Election Commission (FEC)1884
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty1937
National Weather Service1950
Energy Information Administration1971
Immigration and Customs Enforcement1975
Department of State (DOS)2028
Federal Student Aid2160
NOAA Fisheries2187
Department of the Treasury 2261
National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)2335
Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC)2347
Census Bureau2401
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)2500
Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers2541
Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)2685
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)2691
National Cancer Institute2784
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP)3052
United States Postal Service (USPS)3169
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Admin. (SAMHSA)3268
Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae)3320
Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission (OSHRC)3336
Sandia National Laboratories3351
National Science Foundation (NSF)3670
Air Force3823
National Library of Medicine (NLM)5715
National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AMTRAK)5759
Department of Commerce (DOC)8022
Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)11776
Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)12956
Customs and Border Protection15697