Articles Related to Active Learning

Dr. Lilli Nielsen

Articles by Dr. Lilli Nielsen

Active Learning and the Blind, Multiply Disabled Child

Dr. Lilli Nielsen

Future Reflections, 2004

This article is an edited version (with permission of the author) of the introduction and the first chapter of her book, Early Learning Step by Step: Children with Vision Impairment And Multiple Disabilities. Following the article is a review of the book and information on how to order it and other materials developed by Dr. Nielsen for use with blind children who have additional disabilities.

Cortical Visual Impairment: Causes and Manifestations, Scottish Sensory Centre.  

(This article was originally published in “Refsnaes-Nyt”, No 38, September 1993).

An article written for the Scottish Sensory Centre detailing Lilli’s thoughts about assessing children with cortical visual impairments. This article was written at a time when professionals were just beginning to learn about CVI.

Cortical Vision Impairment: Using the Sense of Sight as a Secondary Sensory Modality,  

Scottish Sensory Centre.(This article first appeared in Danish in Refsnaes-Nyt, no 41, 1994.)
A brief article discussing Anne and Jacob, two children with CVI. Lilli emphasizes these case studies can not be definitive because every child with CVI is different from any other child.

Active Learning and Educational Approaches By Other Authors

The Active Learning Approach: Using the Resonance Board and the Little Room with Young Blind and Multiply Disabled Children

By Gigi Newton, Future Reflections, 2012.
This article, as its title suggests discusses the use of a Little Room and Resonance Board with children.


By Kate Moss Hurst, Deafblind Education Consultant, Texas Deafblind Outreach

This article explains how Active Learning, an educational approach developed by Dr. Lilli Nielsen, can be used to provide instruction for students with the most profound disabilities in both the standard curriculum and the expanded core curriculum.

Attractive Objects

Adapted by Kate Moss Hurst, TSBVI

This is a fact sheet that includes a list of objects that might be used in Active Learning activities and environments suggested in Lilli’s book Space and Self.

Developing my Classroom for Secondary-Aged Students Who Aren’t Actively Engaging with People or Objects

By Suzanne Becker, TSBVI

A TVI and classroom teacher describes how she serves her secondary-level students who are visually and multiply impaired using Lilli Nielsen’s Active Learning approach along with other strategies. 

Five Phases of Educational Treatment Used in Active Learning

By Kate Moss Hurst, TSBVI

This article focuses on five phases of educational approaches that teachers are to use in working with children if they are using an Active Learning theory approach. It summarizes the information first published as part of Dr. Nielsen’s book, Are You Blind?.

Incorporating Active Learning Theory into Activity Routines

By Stacy Shafer and Kate Moss Hurst, TSBVI

This article focuses on Phase IV and V of Lilli Nielsen’s five educational phases of educational treatment outlined in her book, Are You Blind?, and how the Active Learning principles can be incorporated into activity routines.

An Introduction to Dr. Lilli Nielsen’s Active Learning

By Stacy Shafer, TSBVI

This article by Stacy Shafer discusses some of the basic strategies of Dr. Lilli Nielsen’s Active Learning Theory. 

Job One for Educators: Becoming a Good Playmate

By Stacy Shafer and Kate Moss Hurst, TSBVI

If children learn through play, then we must become better playmates in order to facilitate better learning for the child.

Lilli Nielsen FIELA Curriculum in Action: The Skylands School Experience

By Cathy Bailey, OT; Rosemarie Lakawicz, PT; Toni Vidro, Head Teacher; and Linda Zani Thomas, Parent, Ringwood, New Jersey

In this article written for NFB Convention 2003, this group from Skylands School for the Exceptional shares their experience with the FIELA Curriculum.

Some Thoughts On What Makes “Little Rooms” Good Learning Environments

By Millie Smith and Stacy Shafer, TSBVI
In this article, Millie and Stacy discuss some of the factors that seem to be crucial in the design and use of the Little Room.

Taking a Look at the FIELA Curriculum: 730 Learning Environments by Dr. Lilli Nielsen  

By Kate Moss Hurst
This article is based on a book by Dr. Lilli Nielsen titled The FIELA Curriculum: 730 Learning Environments and lists the developmental behaviors in three-month increments as described in this book.

Information about Equipment Design

How to Make a Texture Board to Scratch, Grab, Hold & Release

This factsheet developed by TSBVI details how to make a Scratch, Grab, Hold & Release Board. It also includes information on selection of materials and hand skills discussed in the Functional Scheme.

Resonance Boards

By David Brown, CDBS
This article by David Brown of California Deaf-Blind Services discusses how to make and use a Resonance Board.  

Resonance Board and Little Room Design Information

Reprint of handout developed by TSBVI with the approval of Dr. Lilli Nielsen giving details about the design and construction of a Little Room and Resonance Board.

Related Topics


Tactual Skills for Students with Visual Impairments

Adapted by Kate Moss Hurst, TSBVI
This factsheet includes information taken from Teaching Students with Visual and Multiple Impairments A Resource Guide, by Millie Smith and Nancy Levack. Published by TSBVI. It lists various tactile skills and provides functional examples of what the child will do to demonstrate these skills.

Talking the Language of the Hands to the Hands

By Barbara Miles, Perkins School for the Blind
This factsheet explores the role that the hands play in typical development, and in the development of children who are blind, children who are deaf, and children who are deaf-blind. Strategies for facilitating hand development are discussed. The Full Article is also available.  Miles, B. (2003, October). Talking the language of the hands to the hands. DB-Link: The National Information Clearinghouse on Children Who Are DeafBlind. Monmouth, Oregon. Retrieved: hands.pdf 

Miles, B., Nelson, E., and Pellerin R., 2015. CDCI Research into Practice, Summary 3.

University of Vermont, Center on Disability and Community  Inclusion.
This article provides a summary of their research looking at hand use with children. 

From active touch to tactile communication

By Dr. Jude Nicholas, Resource Center for the Deafblind and
Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.

Although visual and auditory cognition is well researched and better understood, relatively little is known about tactile cognition in general. It is perhaps unsurprising then that the majority of theoretical insights concerning the mechanisms and principles governing cognitions have been developed on the basis of the research on the visual and auditory systems. One should expect there to be a number of similarities and important differences between tactile cognition and cognitions that have been experienced via sight or hearing. Tactile cognition refers to the higher order processing and integration of tactile information through active touch. Until recently few studies had attempted to investigate the effects of tactile cognition. What is more, recent developments in cognitive neuroscience (neuroimaging and neuropsychology) mean that we now know far more about the mechanisms underlying tactile cognition than ever before.

The Importance of Touch

By Peggy Sinclair-Morris, Technical Assistance Coordinator at The Kentucky Deaf-Blind Project, Dept. of  Early Childhood Education, Special Education, & Rehabilitation Counseling, University of Kentucky.
An article on Paths to Literacy helps bring home the importance of co-active touch during our interactions with children who are blind or deafblind.

Touch: A Critical Sense for Individuals with Visual Impairments

By Kate Moss Hurst, TSBVI
A factsheet that includes information about the importance of touch for individuals with visual impairments and suggestions for things that your child might enjoy exploring through touch adapted from Space and Self, Nielsen, L. 1992.

The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children 

This article discusses the importance of play in developing the brains of young children.

Articles by Family Members

Dean’s Life After 22

By Sarah Lundgren

Parent Sarah Lundgren shares her plan for her son’s life after the age of 22.