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Spring 2019

By Kate Hurst, Online Education Consultant, TSBVI Outreach Program

Abstract: This article provides information on Active Learning Space, a website with information on Lilli Nielsen’s Active Learning approach to education for students who are blind and visually impaired with additional disabilities, including students with DeafBlindness (http://activelearningspace.org). This website is also mentioned in “What’s Happening with Active Learning?”, an article in the Effective Practices section of this newsletter. Additional information on Active Learning will be provided in each issue of TX SenseAbilities this year.

Keywords: Active Learning, Active Learning Space, Lilli Nielsen, DeafBlind, DB, Penrickton Center, Perkins School for the Blind, TSBVI, Functional Scheme Assessment, FIELA Curriculum, online learning, Continuing Education Unit, CEU

Active Learning Space is a website devoted to the Active Learning approach developed by Dr. Lilli Nielsen of Denmark. This approach can be used with many individuals, but is especially beneficial for learners who are blind and visually impaired or DeafBlind and have additional disabilities. These individuals often experience global delays in physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development. Most of these individuals function below 48 months developmentally due to the significant challenges they face in accessing learning because of their disabilities. This approach can be used with individuals of all ages, but is especially beneficial for our youngest learners.


Penrickton Center for Blind Children, Perkins School for the Blind, and Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired have developed this website in collaboration and with support from the Narbethong State Special School in Queensland, Australia.  

A boy leans over a bench and explores objects on the floor in front of him.
Caption: Young boy exploring objects while prone on a Support Bench

On the website you can:

  • Get information about how to implement the Active Learning Approach;
  • Find tips on how to advocate for this approach with your IEP team;
  • Learn how to select and use various pieces of equipment and materials to create specialized learning environments;
  • Download plans for making many pieces of equipment: and
  • See videos of this approach being used with individuals of various ages.

You can also find resources for making and buying equipment, getting additional training on Active Learning, and folks sharing ideas from the field.Parents and educators all over the world are learning more about Active Learning and creating learning environments for children. Our newest addition to Active Learning Space is a section just for family members.

In addition to the information on the website, we are currently developing a series of seven self-paced online courses related to Active Learning. The first two of these courses are available now and may be taken for credit if you choose:

  1. Active Learning Principles (12 hour course with ACVREP and SBEC credit)
  2. Functional Scheme (6 hour course with ACVREP and SBEC credit)

By mid-January we hope to have 5 additional courses ready and these include:

  1. Program Planning: how to develop the IEP so the Active Learning approach is integrated into instruction.
  2. Implementation: how to utilize the FIELA curriculum and Active Learning approach to teach both standard and expanded core content.
  3. Equipment: how to select, build and use a variety of “perceptualizing aids” or equipment specifically designed for the Active Learning approach.
  4. Materials: how to select appropriate materials based on the individual learner’s preferences and disabilities to enhance learning.
  5. Documenting Progress; how to collect data on Active Learning instruction to document progress related to the learner’s IEP goals.

If an online course is not your thing, you may want to check out the live and archived webinars of the Active Learning Study Group. This year’s webinars are being presented by Patty Obrzut and Jessica McCavit from Penrickton Center for Blind Children and focus on the topics of hand development, oral motor activities, and constructive play. 


The cover of a book titled: " Five Phases of Educational Treatment for students with significant multiple disabilities


















Caption: Photo about the Five Phases of Education Treatment found on Pinterest


Maybe Pinterest is your way of gathering information or perhaps an online newsletter. Both of these are available from Active Learning Space. Go to The Active Learning Space homepage to request either of these options.

Prefer live, face-to-face learning?  Consider attending the Active Learning Conference scheduled for June 2019 in the Dallas area. More details and registration information can be found at http://www. activelearningspace.org/training-events as they become available.

We hope that you will explore all of these resources for learning about Active Learning and become a part of this growing community of practice. Get active at the Active Learning Space!



Caption: Logo for the Active Learning Space website. Text displays “Dr. Lilli Nielsen’s techniques that emphasize simple ways to change the environment so that a child becomes an 'active learner.'"