Who we are: the history of Braille

The name suffix “Brailletec” refers to “Braille”, named after the Frenchman Louis Braille and has a military origin. In early-19th century, the French officer Charles Barbier tried to use characters (and the combination of dots) for military purposes. Messages should be readable in the dark and at night without the risk of drawing enemies to the light. In 1929, Louis Braille used this method to develop today’s international Braille language.

Special traditions

“Blista” was also born during the war. It started its activities with a group of war-blinded soldiers of World War I, being under medical treatment at the University hospital in Marburg. Since St. Elisabeth, the special care of sick and disabled people had become a real tradition in Marburg. These patients wanted to do more than producing baskets, so in Carl Strehl, a committed blind philosophy doctoral candidate, they found the perfect teacher and person looking after their education and rehabilitation. In 1916, he founded the “German society of Blind Academicians” and the  „Deutsche Blindenstudienanstalt“ to give young war-blinds the chance to graduate and study at university. Blistas work started in two rooms with a minimum of materials. Soon young blind civilians joined as well so that a secondary school for the blind was founded – nowadays known as the Carl Strehl School.

Healthy growth

No education without books – and the education of the blind needs books as well, very large, thick and expensive braille books. Therefore, the next step was to extend “Blistas” activities to maintain a braille library and a braille press that could produce and provide the required printed materials. The technical requirements for this had been already invented around 1900. In 1932, the school, the library, the press, the storage room, the shop and the workshop for technical aids for the blind could be placed in two new buildings; meanwhile the number of students reached 80 persons.

After World War II “Blista” extended in many directions. The school complex we know today was built in the Sixties. The Braille library is one of the largest ones worldwide. In 1983, another building was installed which was used for the commercial-orientated departments of “Blista”: the publishing house, the printing house, the production of technical aids and the sales department.

A fresh start

The small workshop had meanwhile become an outgrown factory for the production of technical aids for the blind due to the fact that the production of Braille writers had also moved to Marburg after World War II. In 1987, “Blista” purchased a small electronic company dealing with the development of computer-aided office equipment for the blind. At the same time, the entire technology was separated into an independent company which was later owned and generously financially supported by the government of Hessen. Unfortunately, this proceeding turned out be economical unsuccessful, and in 1993 the government of Hessen started the liquidation of the company. Later on, the company could be privatized and put back on its feet again by a strong reduction of staff. With this, the production of technical aids in Marburg was saved.

That was the beginning of “Blista Brailletec GmbH”. The status of non-profitability could be maintained. Since 1994, the non-profit “Blista Brailletec GmbH” is owned by the “Deutsche Blindenstudienanstalt” together with three organizations for the Blind.

Since privatization in 1994 many things changed. Thanks to a professional team and many decades of experience, we are developing and supplying braille technology of highest quality. New products are enabling us to meet the needs of our customers for the requested additional technical possibilities. We are also the main importer for the Swedish company Index Braille, world market leader for Braille-labelling and Braille-printers.

You want to know more about us and our history? Please contact us!