Instructional Approaches and Learning Theory

Educators use various approaches for teaching students who have multiple disabilities. This section features links to current teaching methods: the Van Dijk and the Active Learning Approaches, as well as important information for creating environments that enhance learning.

Van Dijk Approach

National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness
Dr. Jan van Dijk describes his educational approach, including the topics of attachment and the development of communication.
National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness
Dr. Stephanie MacFarland, who specializes in training teachers of students with multiple disabilities, outlines van Dijk's learning theory for children who are deafblind.
Perkins eLearning, Perkins School for the Blind
This tutorial presents two webcast interviews with Dr. van Dijk, in which he explains and demonstrates his educational theories. Continuing education credits are available.

Active Learning Approach

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI)
Recorded video webinars on various aspects of Active Learning can be viewed here.
Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI)
TSBVI will offer a series of study groups, workshops, and a conference focussed on Nielsen's Active Learning during the 2015-16 school year. Information on participating is at this link.
Future Reflections, 2004, National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
This is an excerpt from Dr. Lilli Nielsen's book, Early Learning Step by Step. It outlines her Active Learning Approach and explains the importance of the learning environment for childen with visual impairments and multiple disabilities.
Future Reflections, 2012, National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
Educator Gigi Newton tells a personal story of how she moved from rejecting Lilli Nielsen's Active Learning Theory to becoming a self-described "groupie" of her methods.
Future Reflections, 2006, National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
Sue Elan Holmes writes "about her experience with the Little Room, and what the Active Learning approach has meant for her son, Jimmy."
Ohio Center for Deafblind Education
Authored by Kay L. Clarke of the Ohio Center for Deafblind Education, this downloadable booklet includes detailed instructions for creating structures for safe and independent play.
Future Reflections, 2005, National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
Stacy Shafer outlines some of Dr. Lilli Nielsen's recommendations for designing a learning environment for a child with visual impairments and multiple disabilities.
National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB)
NCDB hosts a portal page on their website with an overview on the work of Dr. Lilli Nielsen, with links to key resources
This website is a primary source of information on Active Learning and the sole source of Active Learning equipment authorized by Dr. Lilli Nielsen in North America.
Washington Sensory Disabilities Services
Video resources can be highly informative, especially when explaining Space for Active Learning (SAL). On this page, you'll find three videos demonstrating various types of SALs. (For best results, use Internet Explorer to view Videos.) Be sure to also read the FAQ page offered here.
Future Reflections, 2006, National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
Jean Bugbee shares her experiences using the Active Learning Approach with her adopted daughter, Renee.

Web-Based Organizations and Internet Resources

Perkins eLearning Webcasts
Author/educator Barbara Miles offers strategies for making connections with students who are deafblind that replicate the elements of conversation. In a related webcast, Miles speaks specifically on Hands & Touch and the roles that hands play in conversation.
Features a weblog with updates on research and publications, and a forum of experts that respond to questions about education of children with deafblindness.
Perkins eLearning Webinar
A recording of Faye Gonzalez's 2014 presentation on integrating sensory and literacy activities to improve communication skills.
Perkins eLearning Tutorial
A collection of Perkins eLearning's most popular webcasts and webinars, packaged into one self-directed learning experience. Earn 10 ACVREP Credits through the topics of CHARGE, Deafblindness, Communication, Literacy, Touch, and Vocational Readiness.

Environmental Considerations 

California Deaf-Blind Services
Elizabeth Hartmann focuses on three main aspects of environments in this article (page 3): space, people, and time. Giving each appropriate attention "make them more conducive to meaningful communication" for children with deafblindness.
Deafblind International
Tony Best explains the educational importance of understanding, structuring, and controlling the environment for children who are deafblind.

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