In the first year we started with five students, three of them studying computer sciences and two studying economics. Currently (2012) there are approx. 40 Students and a staff of 32 people. BliZ is fully integrated in our infrastructure in our two plants here in Giessen and in Friedberg with an overall volume of approx 13.900 students. Most of the people of our staff are partially sighted experts in the field of adapted access for blind and visually impaired persons.
Besides supporting our handicapped students, our main objectives are R & D of software and hardware for blind and visually impaired persons. BliZ is involved in several projects to improve the situation of persons with low vision or without any residual vision in the professional context. Nowadays most of our blind visually impaired professionals have to use computers in their daily work. They have to deal with document management, video conferencing, unified messaging, application sharing or even tele working. Tele working in particular offers an interesting future perspective for persons with disabilities. It is a good starting point for equal opportunities in professional work. In an environment of up to date information technology combined with the respective adapted access, it is possible to work effectively and with good efficiency.
But: the available solutions for adapted access are far from being perfect. We are in close contact with the manufacturers of these devices to give advice and assistance for testing and improving ergonomics. If we do experience problems with the adapted access technology, we try to evaluate alternative working strategies for common tasks.
Thanks to our sponsors we were able to raise some money and necessary equipment to get our center started from scratch. Because of the uniqueness and its success, there is a continuing interest of the public for the BliZ. There are regular visits not only of the press but also of tv teams of Germans's leading channels.