Put Your Monitor Where You Want It

February 2013
By Sharon Ferrell, Assistive Technology (AT) Specialist

There’s a lot of glamorous technology out there, especially in the computer world. Tablet PC’s and smartphones are everywhere! Computers are being offered in sleek, all-in-one packages. 

New and exciting is certainly wonderful, but today I want to tell you about a good old staid and reliable piece - the monitor arm. Don’t stop reading! Monitor arms may not be glitz and glamour but they are valuable components for the computer user with low vision!

Image of Woman Using Dual Side by Side Monitor Arm at Her Desk
Image Source: http://www.ergotron.com/Home/tabid/36/language/en-US/Default.aspx

Mounting a computer monitor onto a moveable, adjustable arm allows you to: 

  • Easily change the height to accommodate different desk, chair and person heights.
  • Arrange multiple monitors including dual side-by-side or stacking one on top of the other.
  • Bring the monitor forward, closer to the user, to reduce fatigue and discomfort from leaning towards the screen.
  • Push back the monitor when not in use for more room in a small desk area.

What exactly is a monitor arm? Well, it consists of a mount, articulating arm pieces and a hinged plate you attach to the back of the monitor. Most new monitors have mounting holes in a standardized arrangement allowing for easy attachment to mounts.  

Image of Articulating Monitor Arm
Image Source: http://www.ergotron.com/Home/tabid/36/language/en-US/Default.aspx

Attaching the mount holding a monitor to a solid surface for safety is clearly important. Different types of mounts are available to address various installation needs:

  • Clamp Mount
    A clamp mount is similar to a C-clamp and slides over the edge of the desk. The mount is stabilized by tightening the screw plate underneath by hand until the desk is squeezed tightly between the top and bottom plates of the mount. Not having to drill holes into the desk surface is a huge benefit of the clamp mount along with being easy to move if changing locations. 
  • Grommet Mount 
    This mount is screwed directly into a wooden desk surface, requiring tools and expertise. A good choice if clamp mounting is not possible or if the workstation area is permanent. 
  • Wall Mount 
    Wall mount monitor arms are very similar to TV wall mounts and are often used when workstations are permanent, desk surface area is minimal or if the work station is one where you stand up to use it. Again, this type of mount will require tools and expertise to install. 

Once you’ve determined how you’re going to attach the arm, you can decide if you need a single arm or an arm that can hold and position two monitors.

Be sure to measure the workstation area carefully. You’ll need to identify where you’ll be mounting the arm to the desk or wall, then measure the “reach” from the mount location to where you want the monitor to float in front of your user. With some models, extensions are available that can add up to nine inches on top of the standard 25-inch “reach.” Read those specifications carefully though! The weight maximum may go down with an extension in use.

The desk mount single arm is the one I use most often.  They are straightforward to setup and once in place, allow for easy adjustment of the monitor height, distance from user, tilt, pan and rotation. 

Monitor arms can help keep you in a more ergonomic position. They can provide maximum adjustability for each person. Monitor arms may not be glamorous but they will certainly help you put your monitor where you want it and get the job done.

Happy and comfortable computing!

Image of Man Using Monitor Arm with Customer at a Store Counter
Image Source: http://www.ergotron.com/Home/tabid/36/language/en-US/Default.aspx

In the AT Scoop, Department of Services for the Blind (DSB) does not intend to endorse or recommend any commercial products, processes, or services. All opinions expressed in this article and in the AT Scoop are those of the individual authors. The views and opinions of authors expressed on DSB's website do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Government, and they may not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes.

For more information on Assistive Technology, email us at info@dsb.wa.gov.