Instructional Approaches and Learning Theory
Education for Students with Multiple Disabilities
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
An Educational Curriculum for Deaf-Blind Multi-Handicapped Persons, National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness
Dr. Jan van Dijk describes his educational approach, including the topics of attachment and the development of communication.
Overview of the van Dijk Curricular Approach, 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.
Active Learning Approach
Active Learning and the Blind, Multiply Disabled Child, Future Reflections--National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
This is an abridged excerpt from Dr. Lilli Nielsen's book, Early Learning Step by Step: Children with Vision Impairment and Multiple Disabilities. It outlines her Active Learning Approach and explains the importance of the learning environment.
An Introduction to Dr. Lilli Nielsen's Active Learning, Future Reflections--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.
What my Daughter Taught me About Active Learning--or, Whose Goal is it Anyway? , Future Reflections--National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
Jean Bugbee shares her experiences using the Active Learning Approach with her adopted daughter, Renee.
Connecting with Jimmy, Future Reflections--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."
Web-Based Organizations and Internet Resources
"LilliWorks is the provider of Dr. Lilli Nielsen's specially designed Active Learning Equipment for North America, and also educates and consults on Active Learning topics.
Dr. Jan van Dijk
Features a weblog with updates on research and publications, and a forum of experts that respond to questions about education of children with deafblindness.
Assessing the Instructional Environment to Meet the Needs of Learners With Multiple Disabilities Including Students who are Deaf-Blind, Deaf-Blind Perspectives (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
This newsletter article by Bonnie L. Utley (page 5) includes an environmental checklist, with sections on therapeutic positioning and lighting.
Creating Communication Rich Environments, 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.
Structuring the Environment, Deafblind International
Tony Best explains the educational importance of understanding, structuring, and controlling the environment for children who are deafblind.