Future Reflections                                                                                           Convention 2004

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Resources and Training Materials for
Parents and Teachers of Visually Impaired Children with Additional Disabilities

by Linda Zani Thomas

Editor’s Note: The leaders of the Parents of Blind Children—New Jersey (POBC-NJ), a division of the NFB of New Jersey, have asked that I publish the following information and I am delighted to do it. I especially recommend the videos developed by Joe Cutter and offered by the POBC-NJ. The content of the videos is top quality.  Parents and professionals will find them invaluable as training tools and as guides in developing meaningful educational programming for blind children with additional disabilities. Here’s the information:

The POBC-NJ Mission Regarding Visually Impaired Children with Additional Disabilities

For many children, visual impairment is just one more challenge they face.  A recent survey showed that sixty-six percent of the visually impaired children in New Jersey had additional disabilities, most with conditions causing significant developmental delay. Parents of these children are most concerned with getting their children’s health stabilized, then concentrating on developmental progress and long-term care issues.

The POBC-NJ is dedicated to providing quality, cutting edge information for parents of children with additional disabilities. POBC-NJ is a proponent of Dr. Lilli Nielsen’s teachings and techniques. She is a pioneer in learning techniques for multiply disabled children and creator of the learning approach called Active Learning. Her techniques and materials, which are known in nations all over the world, have helped thousands of extremely challenged children recognize their true potential.

Active Learning

The premise of Active Learning is that all children learn through their own actions, on their own initiative.  According to Dr. Nielsen, “…if given the opportunity to learn from his own active exploration and examination, the child will achieve skills that become part of his personality, and so are natural for him to use in interaction with others and for fulfillment of his own needs, and will gradually make him ready to develop to be as independent as possible.”

Getting started with Active Learning is easy, once you understand Dr. Nielsen’s philosophy. One of the most striking elements of Active Learning is that parents and teachers never engage in physically guiding the hands of the child who is blind or visually impaired. Instead, their role is to construct a personalized learning environment that leads the child to perform learning tasks on his or her own, with no physical intervention. With the right tools and materials—which Dr. Nielsen has developed—this is possible regardless of the extent of the child’s additional disabilities. In this manner, the multiply disabled blind or visually impaired child experiences genuine independence and his or her learning becomes meaningful and relevant.

The following is a list of Active Learning sources for general information, training materials, equipment, and the FIELA—Flexible, Individual, Enriched, Level, Appropriate—curriculum designed for classroom use.

POBC-NJ Resources and Services for Visually Impaired Children with Additional Disabilities

Our sincere gratitude to Joe Cutter for making his videotapes available to POBC-NJ for us to pass on his and others’ knowledge to parents, teachers, and therapists across the country.

Source: POBC-NJ Videos

To order any of the following five videos, please send your request and a check made payable to the POBC-NJ to Carol Castellano, President POBC-NJ, 23 Alexander Avenue Madison, NJ 07940. If you have questions or need more information, you may contact her by phone at (973) 377-0976 or by email at <[email protected]>.

Dr. Nielsen’s Active Learning Techniques  VHS (1:30) $20 each, plus $3.50 shipping and handling

Dr. Nielsen’s Active Learning techniques have been used with great success in home, school, and residential settings. The POBC-NJ is happy to announce that we have an excellent instructional videotape for sale that reviews key Active Learning techniques, equipment, and resources. The ninety-minute videotape is moderated by Joe Cutter, a pediatric orientation and mobility teacher and nationally recognized expert in early childhood and educational programming for multiply disabled blind children. This videotape is perfect for home use as a guide to setting a child’s learning environment and as a training tool or reference for therapists and teachers. A Joe Cutter video.

Early Intervention, Not Early Interference VHS (1:25) $20 each, plus $3.50 shipping and handling

Understanding early movement and travel, and facilitating growth and development using a teamwork approach are the themes of this video. The video includes an in-depth discussion of early intervention programming and pre-school concerns. A Joe Cutter video.

Infant Development and Sensory Integration VHS (1:40) $20 each, plus $3.50 shipping and handling

This video addresses the impact of movement on development and understanding the movement needs of blind/visually impaired children through a thorough understanding of normal childhood development. A Joe Cutter video.

POBC-NJ Seminar for Teachers VHS (1:20). $20 each, plus $3.50 shipping and handling

This video of our highly successful teacher seminar addresses the following topics: what teachers should know about blind/VI students, classroom strategies, orientation and mobility, and physical education activities. A Joe Cutter video.

Angelo “Monty” Montagnino’s Physical Education for Blind and Visually Impaired Children VHS (1:40) $20 each, plus $3.50 shipping and handling

A must for all P.E. teachers of school-age children, this video is also valuable for parents wishing to incorporate exercise and sports into their children’s lives. A Joe Cutter video.


Joe Cutter, a recent retiree from the Commission is perhaps the most knowledgeable authority in New Jersey on Active Learning. He is available for consultations through POBC-NJ or by calling him directly at (732) 502-0610 or through his email address at <[email protected]>.

Information about how parents and professionals can collaborate to set up a school or home Active Learning program is available from POBC-NJ by contacting Linda Zani Thomas at <[email protected]> or (973) 962-9307.

Active Learning Classroom Site Visits

Please contact Linda Zani Thomas or Joe Cutter (see contact information above) to visit classrooms in New Jersey that feature Active Learning.

 Source: Dr. Nielsen and Associates

1. Equipment

 Active Learning equipment and teaching tools may be purchased through the Lilliworks Active Learning Foundation. For more information call (510) 522-1340 or go to the Web site at <www.lilliworks.com>.

2. Books/Articles

Classic articles, books, and the FIELA curriculum on Active Learning is available from Dr. Nielsen through the Lilliworks Active Learning Foundation (510) 522-1340, <www.lilliworks.com>; or from Vision Associates (407) 352-1200, <www.visionkits.com>.

3. Consultation

Dr. Nielsen will provide educational consultation via review of videotapes of children. For more information about contents of the video, fees, etc., contact Dr. Nielsen at <[email protected]>.  For a schedule of Dr. Nielsen’s workshops in the U.S.A. or other countries, please contact her at the email address above.

Source: National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC)

Future Reflections articles on Dr. Nielsen’s techniques, including The Lilli Nielsen FIELA Curriculum in Action, are available at no charge through the NOPBC at the National Federation of the Blind headquarters. Send your request for a packet of literature by mail, phone, or email to NOPBC Lilli Articles, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230; (410) 659-9314, extension 360; <[email protected]>.

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