Active Learning

Active Learning for the Blind and Visually Impaired  

The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) provides services for close to 11,000 blind and visually impaired individuals from birth to age 22 in a multitude of schools across the state of Texas. In addition, the school runs an array of programs in special education for parents and teaching professionals throughout the year.

Similar to the centers run by ELIYA, TSBVI has programs for pre-school aged children, employing early intervention methods, parent guidance and encouragement of the child’s self-sufficiency with special attention to emotional sensitivities, preparation for Braille reading, and advancing independent motor skills and environmental awareness, at all times using the latest technological advances in the field.

The theory of active learning for children who are blind was advanced by Dr. Lilli Nielsen (who was a Danish psychologist in the field of teaching blind children). Her methods of working with the blind are used at TSBVI as well as at ELIYA.        

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Active learning is based on Dr. Lilli Nielsen’s premise that blind and visually impaired children can be an active participant in his or her learning by creating environments and presenting materials that are interesting and safe to explore through touch, smell, bright colors (for those who are not blind but are visually impaired), and so on. In this way the child experiences sensory feedback and develops the skills necessary to navigate the world.

Evaluating these skills is the first step in designing positive active learning environments for blind and visually impaired children. Understanding each child’s challenges and abilities and what excites his or her interest and curiosity, helps to foster enjoyable learning experiences in the future.

Active learning is possible when:

There is a large variety of toys, games and all sorts of sensory materials available;

The child is given unlimited time to explore his or her surroundings and materials without interruption;

Activities are suitable to the level of development and interest of the child;

The child is given the opportunity to repeat the activity a number of times.   

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