Vertical Display Stand

Designers: Laura Struzyna, Alexandra Sterling, AlessondraSpeidel

Client Coordinator: Catherine Alguire, OT, Jen Michalenok, Lisa Stinnett, Durham Public Schools

Supervising Professors: Kevin Caves and Richard Goldberg


We created a transportable, adjustable display stand for a special needs classroom in a local elementary school.  Our clients have a number of different neurological disorders, including Angelman’s Syndrome, spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, and cortical vision impairment (CVI).

To interact with and instruct the students, the teachers use a variety of educational materials including books, papers, toys, binders, as well as felt and magnetic items.  It is difficult for the teachers to hold the materials in the appropriate location in front of the student and to instruct the student at the same time.  Staff has tried several different commercially existing products that partially satisfy the clients’ needs. Tripod easels with magnetic whiteboards are currently available, and 3M offers an adjustable monitor arm that can be swiveled, tilted, and moved vertically for optimal positioning. However, there is no single existing commercial product that is sturdy or versatile enough to incorporate and display all of the materials in a manner that is comfortable and effective for all users.  To address these needs, we developed the Vertical Display Stand, which enables teachers and staff to display a variety of educational materials while the teacher is free to move around and interact with the student more easily.


One of the teachers stated:“This is amazing! The design is fantastic. It gives us all of the opportunities that we are going to need in order to allow for our students to access their materials and do partner-assisted scanning.  So, this is really everything we wanted to have happen for them.  I am really excited to use this!”  The school occupational therapist reported: “The needs and concerns were complex and challenging – they were all well addressed by the product design. Thank you for contributing to the daily education of countless students with multi-handicapping conditions!”


The vertical display stand design looks like an easel, as seen in Figure 1. It has an adjustable central board allows for the display of the teachers’ various educational materials at multiple angles.  The stand is designed so that the teachers can push the clients up to it in their wheelchairs.

The structure is made of oak plywood and coated with a washable black satin polyurethane coating.  The stand is about 40” wide and 60” tall.  The central display board is about 40” x 25”.  The bottom of the board is 28.5” above the ground to allow room for the students’ wheelchairs and reaches a height of 53.5” to accommodate the vertical visual ranges of all the students.

The central display board has several unique features. The entire board can tilted in 10 degree increments, from 30 degrees forward, to 10 degrees back. The board has a built in white board door mounted on hinges to allow the teacher to sit behind the board, open the door to write on the board, then close to show the student.  There is another hinged section of the display board, designed to facilitate face-to-face, partner assisted communication techniques.  The entire display board is covered with black felt and there is a black felt cover for the white board that attaches with magnets that are inlaid on the display board.  There is also a separate yellow felt cover that attaches with magnets to provide a high contract background for students that need it. The magnets can also be used by the teachers to easily place items for students to make visual selections.

A set of shelf brackets is mounted to the front of the display board.  We provided a narrow shelf that can be used to hold books and papers as well as a clear office folder holder that the teachers use to hold their custom made binder books.

To address specific visual impairments, the display stand includes a visor and focal task lighting.  A swing away visor was installed on the top of the stand to block out the overhead lights. Two gooseneck lights, mounted to the front of the stand, provide task lighting.  Both lights use low temperature, energy smart soft white bulbs. The lights are plugged into a power strip that sits out of reach of students, underneath the visor at the top left of the left A-frame base.  The power strip has a six-foot cord that allows it to be plugged into a nearby outlet.  Remaining outlets on the power strip can be used for other electronic devices the teachers want to use with the students.

The total cost of the device was $447.

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