Picture of two students looking at a computer screen. Picture of a professor with a computer teaching a small group of students. Picture of a student working at a laptop.

Cognitive Access

UDI e-Tool- Cognitive Access


Cognitive Access within UDI Online refers to approaches and elements that assist diverse learners to acquire, comprehend, recall, apply, evaluate, integrate, and express information within a digital learning environment.

Adapted from: Bloom B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives, handbook I: The cognitive domain. New York: David McKay Co Inc.



The UDI Online project team has identified five Principles of UDI which are most applicable to the Cognitive Access Domain. The identification of these UDI Principles are based on results from faculty and student interviews conducted by the UDI Online Project team, and from an extensive review of the literature regarding online courses, which indicate several factors that can enhance access to course content for diverse learners. Examples from the surveys, interviews, and the literature review suggest that Cognitive Access is enhanced when course expectations are made explicit, topics are included in a logical sequence, directions regarding assignments are straightforward and easy-to-follow, and assessment is clear and directly linked to course objectives. The following Principles of UDI were deemed to most directly align with the Cognitive Access Domain. These Principles support diverse learners in acquiring, comprehending, recalling, applying, evaluating, integrating, and expressing course content in online and technology-blended courses.

  1. Equitable Use
  2. Flexibility in Use
  3. Simple and Intuitive
  4. Perceptible Information
  5. Tolerance for Error



Instructors may wish to use features within Adobe Acrobat Pro to highlight key points and imbed thinking prompts within a PDF document to facilitate Cognitive Access. Faculty may use widgets (icons) to link course objectives with course activities to support visual learners. To read more about e-Tools go to the below.


Recommendations for Online and Blended Courses

Research conducted by the UDI Online Project identified the following recommendations related to Cognitive Access in online and blended courses:

Faculty Recommendations for Online and Blended Courses:

  • Clear statement of expectations and deadlines
  • Explicit course organization, structure, and guidelines
  • Consideration of technical elements within online and blended courses with clear ways for students to obtain technical support
  • Sensitivity to potential discrepancy between faculty expectations and students’ time management and course engagement

Student Recommendations for Online and Blended Courses:

  • Need to plan for more time on course-related activities
  • Increased need for self-monitoring and self-management
  • Need for clear and explicit directions and expectations from instructor