The Eldy Association is an Italian non-profit organization looking to make it easier for new computer users to learn about email, browsing the web and more. According to its website, the Association’s goal is to “reach out to the elderly and disabled community with a simple computer program that can encourage their staying active and social, thus reducing their isolation and loneliness”.
What Is Eldy?
The resulting computer program that the Eldy Association came up with is Eldy, a bundle of essential programs in a easy-to-understand interface for the elderly, with big text and simple, recognizable icons, that has been translated to 22 languages. Think of it as a blown-up mini-operating system that contains an email client, chat system, web browser and even access to a simplified version of Notepad, Eldy TV, and Skype.
Though it’s like an operating system, you can install (and uninstall) Eldy like any other program. I should mention that although Eldy is available for Windows and Linux, the version for Mac is actually in beta. After you install the version for your OS, it will ask you a few questions so you can set up your own email account and profile/username for the chat system.
Here is where you get the chance to set up your own email account if you know the POP3 or IMAP settings in the “expert” route, but it can also set you up with a brand new @eldy.org email address in the “beginner” route.
What Eldy Lets You Do With Ease
Once you’re done answering those, you get The Square.
Here, you can clearly see what programs to use to perform a task. You can check your mail, browse the web, chat, and watch TV. You will have the Back button available anywhere you go for easy access to a page back or to the Square. On my Windows Vista machine, Eldy ran pretty smoothly and the experience was nice and snappy.
The email client provides simple instructions to do the basics, either read your mail, write an email or see your contacts.
I noticed that when you write an email though, a link to Eldy’s website gets appended, which may not be a bad thing as it could help your fellow senior friends learn about this easy-to-use tool.
The web browser is also easy to use with a main portal (or homepage) where you can see bookmarks you’ve set. You can adjust the font size using a slider with magnifier icons.
In the chat area, you can choose to join a public chatroom to meet new people or chat with friends on the Eldy network.
If you need more features, like video chatting, you can use Skype, which is under Useful Tools in the Square.
You can also edit your profile and detail what you are doing, which would be like tweeting or posting a status update.
You can watch Eldy TV which means you basically get access to Hulu, YouTube, Fancast and the like. Under Useful Tools, you get access to Notepad (since you probably won’t need a full office suite), Skype like I mentioned before, and a document browser, where you can select images and files to view and delete.
There’s no program to help users practice their typing, which could be very useful. Overall though, Eldy is an excellent tool for seniors to learn how to use simple computer programs. Not only that, Eldy has even made things extremely easy for anyone that actually wants to show and teach a senior how to email, chat, etc.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are also programs geared for children. If you want to teach your kid, for example, a fun way to learn the alphabet, there are games just for that. Want to teach them how to type? Here are 3 excellent websites. Want to teach them computer languages? There is Scratch. There are many educational websites to keep kids happy.
Do you know of any other programs that facilitate tasks for new computer users? Or have you been trying to teach an elderly person how to use the Internet? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments!