Active Learning approach 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 children who are developmentally under the age of four years old regardless of their chronological age. Her approach is used with many students who in addition to visual impairments and blindness have additional disabilities such as hearing loss, fine and gross motor issues, and social or emotional delays.
Infants with visual impairments must meet eligibility criteria before they receive VI or O&M services. The assessment that must be conducted by a TVI or O&M is the Functional Vision Evaluation (FVE). Completing the FVE with an infant or toddler can be challenging.
For teachers of students with visual impairments and blindness, providing instruction in Braille and the production of braille (including tactile graphics) for students is a critical issue. These broadcasts focus on a variety of issues and resources related to braille.
"The term, 'children with deafblindness,' means children and youth having auditory and visual impairments, the combination of which creates such severe communication and other developmental and learning needs that they cannot be appropriately educated without special education and related services, beyond those that would be provided solely for children with hearing impairments, visual impairments, or severe disabilities to address their educational needs due to these concurrent disabilities."
Students with deafblindness in Texas have been estimated to be fewer than 800 children ages birth to twenty-two. This is an extremely low incidence disability. The range of vision and hearing loss occurring with individual students is great. Some students have mild vision and hearing loss, others total blindness and profound hearing loss, most fall somewhere in-between with one of the sensory losses being more significant than the other. These children use various forms of communication at different times for receptive and expressive communication such as speech, sign language, braille, tactile or object symbols. Many of these children have additional physical, cognitive, and medical challenges. They are educated in regular education classes, life skills classes, programs for the deaf and programs for the blind, and/or special residential schools. Frequently they are the only student in a school district with deafblindness.
Individuals who work with these students may lack specific training in deafblindness and therefore require a great deal of support to meet an individual student's needs. Even specialized teachers such as a teacher of the deaf, teacher of students with visual impairments, and orientation and mobility specialists may have little or no experience with students who are deafblind.
Additionally family members require information, training, and support to become the life-long advocates that their child with deafblindness may need. The birth of their child with deafblindness begins a long journey of learning about deafblindness and finding specific resources they need to help their child achieve a productive and happy life.
Many driver's with visual impairments are able to drive legally with the aid of low vision devices known as bioptics. Rules and regulations related to driving with low vision varies greatly from state to state, so it is important to learn more about the specific licensing policies for an individual state when make decisions about driving with low vision.
The Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) is the body of knowledge and skills that are needed by students with visual impairments due to their unique disability-specific needs. Students with visual impairments need the expanded core curriculum in addition to the core academic curriculum of general education. The ECC should be used as a framework for assessing students, planning individual goals and providing instruction.
An intervener is a paraprofessional who provides direct support to a student with deafblindness for all or part of the instructional day. The intervener receives training in communication methods and sensory accommodations that are needed for an individual student with deafblindness to access information in various learning environments.
In Texas, interveners are used in both educational settings and community settings working for school districts, agencies and families.
Instruction in orientation and mobility, one of the Expanded Core Curriculum areas, helps students know where they are in relation to people and things in the environment, how to get where they want to go and how to get there safely by walking or using a wheelchair or using transportation.
One very important facet of a successful and fulfilling life is what we do for fun, recreation and leisure skills. There are very few activities that individuals with visual impairments or deafblindness cannot participate in if properly adapted. More over, the need for physical activity and ways to relax and restore the mind, body and spirit are key to a fulfilling life. Learn more about these types of activities and resources related to recreation and leisure for individuals who are visually impaired or blind.
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"This area of the ECC highlights the importance of believing in oneself, while understanding one's abilities and limitations. Students learn from successes and failures how to achieve one's goals in life. Self-determination is the ability for people to control their lives, reach goals they have set and take part fully in the world around them." (The Expanded Core Curriculum, Nine Unique Educational Needs for Students with Visual Impairments - AFB)
Millie Smith, a master teacher specializing in instruction for students with visual impairments who have significant additional disabilities, developed this kit for American Printing House for the Blind. This kit is for use in the development of skills for learners with the most significant challenges. Is an extensive set of sensory items and written materials that help the most significantly challenged learners increase their curiosity and develop specific skills.