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All about easels!

Adaptive Design Association hosted its first-ever virtual Giving Tuesday event. The virtual design workshop promised to challenge creativity, teach cardboard carpentry techniques, and spark an 'I can do it' attitude. If you have ever volunteered with ADA on Giving Tuesday you'll remember a bustling day in the workshop where people of all ages, skills, and abilities join in to give back to the community. This year ADA invited community members to join us for a free 1.5-hour adaptive making experience. A total of 83 participants from all over the world (Wisconsin, Virginia, Maine, Japan, Brazil, Chile, Rhode Island, Austria, and of course, our NYC) joined us over 3 sessions

Since March 2020 ADA has been supporting inquiries about how to solve acts of daily living challenges that were a by-product of at-home restrictions and remote learning. The Design team at ADA responded by providing tips and tricks on how to upcycle cardboard to solve at-home adaptive design needs on a case-by-case basis. This is what inspired ADA to host the Giving Tuesday virtual design challenge extravaganza!

The chief complaint was around supporting remote learning and therapy:

"I am an OT in Maine interested in building a tabletop easel for a client similar to this one that was shared on Instagram. I’m wondering if ADA has any templates or material lists I can reference? I already acquired several sheets of tri wall." -OT, Maine

"During a live instruction Google Meet session this morning I was just realizing that we've had a lot of students participating in those sessions via the DOE iPads and lots of them are at odd angles on their video feed. It seems like many students are either holding the iPads or have them propped against books and things like that while on video meetings. I'm wondering if something like a modified iPad easel that keeps the camera at a useful angle could be a widely useful adaptation during remote learning." -DOE School Staffer, NYC

"I was thinking that the writing easels would be incredibly helpful for my students who will be starting the year off remotely and who have less than ideal ergonomic setups in their homes/are developing fine motor grasp and stability. Since the reopening planning is so chaotic, I do not yet know which of my students will be remote and therefore would benefit from a writing easel. I’m wondering how many you have on hand?" -OT East Village, NYC

GivingTuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. This was ADA’s opportunity to demonstrate the value of collaborative design, a core value at ADA and one that is honored for making every piece of equipment in our workshop. How can we solve these challenges with simple tools and affordable materials? We turned the question back to you.

At our Giving Tuesday event, we grouped community members from interdisciplinary professions/fields into smaller teams to come up with solutions for challenges identified around easels.

Screenshots of prototype concepts paired with more fully fleshed out design sketches:

Photo Description: Screenshot of challenge participant with accompanying sketch- this design is intended to sit on top of an existing easel to support a phone so that an instructor can see their student’s work. The flat portion of the design sits parallel to the table surface and has a cutout for the phone’s camera. There are braces between the flat portion and a triangular section that sits on the easel itself.

Photo Description: Screenshot of challenge participant with accompanying sketch - this easel is designed with several slots for a device to sit in. The slim triangular shape allows it to be placed on its long or short side to be used at two different angles. The sides offer a large space for sensory panels to be added for students who would benefit from those features.

Photo Description: Screenshot of a challenge participant pointing to a sketch with accompanying articulated sketch- this easel is designed in a wedge shape with an extended rectangular back to accommodate a slide out storage drawer. It features a removable clip on the slanted surface for papers as well as an articulated mirror at the top edge of the wedge to allow someone to see what’s on the easel while the device is on the same surface. It also includes an adjustable light to illuminate the working area.

Photo Description: Screenshot of a challenge participant pointing to a sketch with accompanying articulated sketch- this design is intended to be a multi-purpose workstation. It has a large flat surface with an attached tall vertical portion at the upper edge that incorporates a phone stand at the top with an area below to prop up a clipboard with an assignment or other materials. The vertical portion is supported by straps to allow it to be folded when not in use.

This opportunity to invite people from around the globe to collaborate on a design challenge delivered. As a result of the event, the adaptive design team is currently partnered with 3 participants of the workshop to fabricate solutions for clients.

That’s not all! ADA has officially kicked-off an Easel Initiative to ensure every student in NYC's District 75 has what they need to support their device for optimal remote learning and therapy. 15,000 tablets have been distributed to accommodate remote learning in NYC's District 75. Tablets arrived with a variety of cases and in most situations, the device is not positioned optimally for virtual learning and therapy sessions. These are extraordinary times. We know staff and families are going above and beyond to make learning meaningful for students. As a community collaborator, Adaptive Design is working to do our part to ensure each student has an easel to position their device. You can help!

What you can do now

- Join the ADA Easel Taskforce to mobilize the making and distribution of easels to support devices for remote learning by emailing

- If you or someone you know needs a custom solution for remote learning reach out.

- Donate to the Always Adapting With You campaign at

Resource links

- Cardboard Carpentry technique videos

- Schedule a virtual visit for your group today!

Most commonly requested easels designs


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