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Check out this blog from a parent using Active Learning! - Thanks for sharing this, Cindy Peters!


Aristotle once said, "For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them."

"We are not teaching skills; we are activating neurology."  - Daniel Kish

Active Learning is an approach developed by Dame Lilli Nielsen to aid visually impaired and deafblind individuals develop tactile skills and build foundational skills in other critical cognitive, physical and emotional development.  Based on typical child development, this approach targets individuals of all ages who function under a developmental age of 3 when real learning only takes place by "doing".  To learn more about this approach, explore the resources listed on this page.

Dame Lilli NielsenDame Lilli Nielsen (1926-2013)

Dame Lilli Nielsen passed away in June of 2013 only days after the Active Learning Conference in Houston.  We honor her life and work and mourn her passing. 

Active Learning Theory was developed by Dame Lilli Nielsen, sibling of and teacher to individuals with visual impairments and deafblindness in Denmark.  Her approach has been widely used throughout Texas, the nation and the world to address learning for these children.

In an effort to promote the use of Active Learning theory with students who are visually impaired, visually and multiply impaired or deafblind, Outreach Programs has collected relevant articles and information to share with professionals and family members.  What follows is a listing of training events, articles, books, videos, websites, and other materials on this approach.

Recent Additions to this Page


On this webpage:

Training Events

Articles and Fact Sheets



Archived Handouts


Videos, Webcasts and Webinars

Other Materials

Training Events

Texas Parent to Parent 11th Annual ConferenceTexas Parent to Parent 11th Annual Conference

Staff from TSBVI Outreach Programs will present two sessions related to Active Learning and Touch at the Texas Parent to Parent Conference in San Marcos, TX.  Both parents and professionals are encouraged to attend this conference and attend these sessions on Friday.

Morning Session on Friday:  What is the “Power of Touch” During the spring of 2014, parents and their preverbal children with visual and additional impairments attended a weekend workshop called the "Power of Touch" in Austin, Texas. This workshop was based on the work of Barbara Miles. Parents practiced fostering communication and touch skills by attending and responding to their children's signals. Parents were guided and supported by facilitators and each other as they moved through this process, tried strategies, watched, and discussed short video clips of their efforts. TSBVI (Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired) Outreach Team will share an overview of the skills practiced. Parents will share about the effect this workshop had on their lives.

Afternoon Session on Friday: Learning is an Active Verb The philosophy of ACTIVE LEARNING is to give all children the opportunity to learn. It is important that the child with visual impairment and additional disabilities learn from his own movement and activities. Active Learning equipment and environments allow children the ability to move, even if the movement is subtle. This session will provide an opportunity for parents to learn about the strategies and equipment used with active learning. Videos of students using the equipment and of parents discussing the benefits of using active learning techniques and equipment with their child will be shared.

Articles and Fact Sheets

An Introduction to Dr. Lilli Nielsen's Active Learning

This article discusses some of the basic strategies of Dr. Lilli Nielsen's Active Learning Theory.

Active Learning and the Exploration of Real Objects

This article describes some of the techniques of Dr. Lilli Nielsen's Active Learning Theory.

Incorporating Active Learning Theory into Activity Routines

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.

Five Phases of Educational Treatment Used in Active Learning 

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?

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

Job One for Educators: Becoming a Good Playmate

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

Resonance Board and Little Room Design Information

Tactual Skills for Students with Visual Impairments

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

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.

Touch: A Critical Sense for Individuals with Visual Impairments (NEW)

What My Daughter Taught Me About Active Learning or Whose Goal Is It?

A parent shares her journey in encouraging her daughter's learning through play—on her own terms at home and at school.


Dr. Neilsen's books are published in the United States and sold through LilliWorks.  These books include:

  • The FIELA Curriculum: 730 activities
  • Functional Scheme:Functional Skills Assessment
  • Early Learning Step by Step
  • Spatial Relations In Congenitally Blind Infants
  • Educational Approaches
  • Are You Blind?
  • Space and Self
  • The Comprehending Hand

One of her colleagues, Dr. van der Poel, has published a book of interest to those seeking information on Active Learning.

  • Visual Impairment - Understanding the Needs of Young Children


Active Learning Forms used by staff at TSBVI Outreach Programs

Active Learning Planning Sheet is a form created to capture information about the child's preferences and responses for use in planning Active Learning instructional activities.

Attractive Objects includes a list of objects that might be used in Active Learning activities and environments suggested in Lilli's book Space and Self.

Archived Handouts

Handouts and Notes 


Handout for Active Learning for Students with Visual and Multiple Impairments Conference



Narbethong State Special School

Penrickton Center for Blind Children

PBS Parents, Child Development, Baby & Toddler Milestones

Site of Senses Project

Videos, Webinars, and Webcasts


Perceptualizing Aids:  How, Why and When

Instructional Strategies for VI Students Under the Developmental Age of 3 - TETN 20440 - Archived broadcast from 2013 on the TSBVI Distance Learning site.

Sophie's Resonance Board - YouTube video of a toddler in an Active Learning environment


Washington State Services for Children with Deaf-Blindness videos on Active Learning and Hand Under Hand


Zoe in the Little Room on YouTube


Advisor website video on  Active Learning Play Space


Active Learning Study Group 2012-13

November 2012

Active Learning Study Group Webinars 2013-14

September 2013 - Handout

October 2013 - Handout

November 2013 - Handout

January 2014 - Handout

Feb 2014 - Handout

April 2014 - Handout

Active Learning Study Group 2014-15

September 2014 - Handout

October 2014 - Handout

November 2014 - Handout

December 2014 - Handout

January 2015 - Handout

March 2015 - Handout

April 2015 - Handout

Other Materials

Active Learning Equipment

Braille Literacy: Back to the Basics - An article on teaching tactile skills from Paths to Literacy website.

56 Tactile Math Ideas: Ideas and Suggestions for Development of Early Maths Skills - Math activities that include an Active Learning Approach on the Paths to Literacy website.

Pre-Braille - From Paths to Literacy information about important concepts, motor skills, auditory skills and tactile skills needed for developing literacy skills in children with visual impairments.  All of these skills can be worked on through Active Learning approaches.

Downloadable catalog from LilliWorks with information on purchasing all of the Active Learning equipment.

Lily Voekel Foundation makes Resonance Boards for families who need one in their home and are unable to get it through typical channels.  Learn more about this resource.