New name, same goals

New name, same goals

Study Center for the Visually Impaired (SZS) Becomes ACCESS@KIT - Center for Digital Accessibility and Assistive Technology

In March 2022, the former Study Center for Visually Impaired Students (SZS) was renamed ACCESS@KIT - Center for Digital Accessibility and Assistive Technology. The new name clarifies on which the topics the center has already been already working on for many years in service, research and teaching: enabling inclusive studying developing assistive technology for people with visual impairments.

The ACCESS@KIT has been dealing with the topic of accessibility for many decades. It all began in 1987 at the University of Karlsruhe (TH), today's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), with the pilot project "Computer Science for the Blind - Studies for the Visually Impaired Students in Computer Science and Industrial Engineering", which was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science and Research at fifty percent each from fall 1987 to spring 1993.

The goal of the pilot project was to open up new study opportunities and occupational fields for people with blindness and low vision that had not been accessible to them until then - especially in the natural sciences, engineering and economics. Modern information and communication technologies played an important role then as now. The pilot experiment proved to be extremely successful and was anchored in the Department of Informatics as a Study Center for Visually Impaired Students in 1993.

Since 2011, Professor Rainer Stiefelhagen has headed the center and thus also the professorship for computer science systems for visually impaired students, which is unique in Germany. Together with his research group Computer Vision for Human-Computer Interaction and the ACCESS@KIT, innovative assistive technologies are being developed, such as AI-based methods for semi-automatic transfer of teaching materials or mobility support systems.

Through the supportive work of ACCESS@KIT, students with blindness and visual impairment can study self-determinedly and inclusively at KIT and experience the university with its study and examination requirements like their sighted fellow students. With the renaming, the former SZS now receives a name that also takes into account the change in language usage.

The Center for Digital Accessibility and Assistive Technology can now be reached at Redirects have been set up for the existing web and email addresses.