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Active Learning Space

Please go to Active Learning Space at for more detailed information about Active Learning. This is a new website collaboratively developed and managed by Penrickton Center for Blind Children, Perkins School for the Blind, and Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

About Active Learning

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

"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.

On this webpage:

Articles and Fact Sheets




Videos & Webinars


Other Materials

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 (downloadable doc)

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 (downloadable doc)

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 (downloadable doc)

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.


Handouts and Notes

Handout for Active Learning for Students with Visual and Multiple Impairments Conference in 2013

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



Narbethong State Special School

Penrickton Center for Blind Children

The ABCs of Child Development: Developmental Milestones for Your Child's First Five Years

Site of Senses Project

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

Videos & Webinars

Webinars and TETN Broadcasts on TSBVI's On the Go Learning

Videos & Webinars

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

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.