Lilli Nielsen

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Lilli Nielsen

Lilli Nielsen ( née Reker ) (born December 21, 1926 in Rønne , Bornholm ; † June 24, 2013 in Kolding , Denmark ) was a Danish psychologist who promoted and taught children who are blind or visually impaired and may also have multiple disabilities. She published several textbooks in the context of education for the blind and visually impaired .


Lilli was the second of seven children of the Reker family, four of whom were born blind. At the age of seven, she was given the task of looking after her little blind brother.

At first Lilli Nielsen taught preschool children, then worked in a hospital, studied psychology and was eventually employed as a teacher for blind children. She later also took over the management of the public special school for the promotion of blind and visually impaired children and young people in Denmark, Refsnaesskolen.

Lilli Nielsen has become known for the development of learning materials, especially for the so-called little room , which has been used worldwide for decades in the early intervention and encouragement of children born blind. For her services she was knighted by the Dannebrogden .

Lilli Nielsen died of pneumonia on June 24, 2013 in the public hospital in Kolding after a brief serious illness.

"Little Room"

One of Lilli Nielsen's best-known ideas was the development of the so-called little room . This has the shape of a large open box, which is usually made of thin wood and plexiglass. The “Little Room” is placed over the bed or mat of the affected baby or toddler, similar to that of an open-front canopy on a pram. From the ceiling of the little room there are toys that are attractive to children. Most of the time it is things that stimulate tactilely through their surface texture or sound differently when touched, in short: animate to touch. In this way, a child who was born blind can carry out spatial exploration in a playful way and develop a perception of space in the same way as a seeing one. The aim is to learn to grasp (= understand) spaces in addition to gripping training and the promotion of ear-hand coordination and to develop a so-called four-sided concept of the environment.


  • Are you blind? Promoting the Development of Visually Impaired Children, Ed. Bentheim, Würzburg 1992, ISBN 3-925265-39-2
  • The me and the space . Active learning in the “small room”, Ed. Bentheim, Würzburg 1993, ISBN 3-925265-44-9
  • Grasp and you can understand , Ed. Bentheim, Würzburg 1992, ISBN 3-925265-36-8
  • Step by step . Early Learning of Visually Impaired and Multiple Disabled Children, Ed. Bentheim, Würzburg 1996, ISBN 3-925265-52-X

Web links

Commons : Lilli Nielsen  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  2. Nielsen, L. (1992). Space and Self. Copenhagen, Denmark: Sikon Press