West Texas A&M University
Universal Design for Online Materials

Universal Design: Cognitive Differences

Meet Liam

Mason A few years ago Liam was in a car accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Liam always excelled academically prior to his accident. However, as a result of the accident, Liam now has difficulty reading and comprehending written text. He works hard to be successful despite his injury, and wants to be more marketable in his field by completing his degree. He feels that online classes allow him the extra time to re-read materials and develop thoughtful answers.

Challenges for designing online materials for Liam

  • When there are few to no graphics that support the written word, Liam misses out on any helpful visual cues related to comprehending the content.
  • When Liam is prompted to read content that contains sarcasm, satire, parody, and metaphor it is particularly challenging for him to comprehend.
  • If an author implies meaning indirectly without stating it explicitly in the writing, the message is then lost on Liam.


There are many potential cognitive disabilities including; memory, problem solving, attention deficit, reading/linguistic/verbal comprehension, visual comprehension, math comprehension. Learn more at: