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Mariasteen Drives Disability Inclusion in the Workplace Forward with Augmented Reality

example of manufacturing operators using augmented reality to support disability inclusion in the workplace

Supporting Disability Inclusion in the Workplace with Augmented Reality

Mariasteen, a Belgian manufacturer that employs more than 700 individuals with disabilities, is leading the way in demonstrating the power of disability inclusion in the workplace. The company is a founding member of Lichtwerk (translated from Dutch to Lightwork), a collaborative effort focused on using technology to make difficult work more accessible.

Using assistive technologies, like LightGuide’s projected augmented reality work instructions, Mariasteen and Lichtwerk help people with disabilities achieve greater success in the workplace and excel in manufacturing roles. The positive impact extends beyond advancing disability inclusion in the workplace, as this technology has also improved operational efficiency, with a 50% increase in throughput and a significant reduction in defects.


Disabled Individuals Employed


Improvement in Throughput

The Challenge

According to the World Economic Forum, 16% of the world’s population (1 in 6 people) live with some form of disability. Unfortunately, unemployment rates among working-age individuals with disabilities are significantly higher than those without. As manufacturers face labor shortages and a growing skills gap, this under-utilized talent pool represents a significant opportunity to address the challenge of disability inclusion in the workplace.

The Solution

By transforming complex written instructions into visual, step-by-step instructions that are projected onto an operator’s work surface, LightGuide AR keeps workers focused and engaged as they’re guided through each step of a process in real time.

Physical and cognitive disabilities impact people differently, and as an extension, they impact work differently. When deployed strategically, AR can improve disability inclusion in the workplace by making work more ergonomic, accessible, and user-friendly for everyone.

At Mariasteen, AR reduces workers’ cognitive load by eliminating the need for memorization and making complex tasks easier to understand and complete. Just as a GPS provides turn-by-turn directions to keep drivers on course, LightGuide’s AR work instructions provide real-time visual guidance to Mariasteen’s operators for manufacturing tasks. It also eliminates language barriers by using icons, animations, and visual cues to effectively communicate work instructions—regardless of language proficiency.

AR fosters disability inclusion in the workplace by creating an accessible work design that keeps tasks within the ergonomically optimal golden zone and integrating with other assistive technologies like collaborative robots (cobots). This powerful combination allows the cobot to complete the highly physical and repetitive tasks that automation does best, while AR guides workers through manual tasks with greater accuracy and efficiency.


"Workers feel more empowered and less stressed when working with the system, knowing they are being supported in their job by LightGuide. They feel confident in manufacturing complex products with high-quality standards. Our operators can now do work which they could not before."
Bart Decloedt, Business Manager, Mariasteen

The Results

Mariasteen’s successful implementation of LightGuide’s AR technology exemplifies the power of Lichtwerk’s motto, ‘Go Digital, Stay Human,’ in manufacturing. This approach serves as a model for disability inclusion in the workplace.

A 50% increase in throughput and a significant reduction in defects further demonstrate the technology’s positive impact on operational efficiency. More importantly, it reinforces AR’s ability to empower individuals with disabilities, fostering a sense of accomplishment and expanding the potential workforce.