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Simple ways to get silver surfers onto web's waves

Starting older people online could not be easier, says Katie Wright

Over the May Day Bank Holiday, while most of us were revelling in the three-day weekend and forgetting about work, 90 people were beavering away at a hackathon in London, using their tech skills to address the online challenges faced by older people.

Organised by Auriens (luxury London apartments designed for later-lifers), the event drew 17 teams competing for a £5,000 prize, with a five-strong group behind a tool called Chad emerging as the winners.

Designed to cut through the complexity of internet navigation, the plug-in places the most pertinent information from a website at a user's fingertips. It also allows voice search, so those who suffer from arthritis or even Parkinson's disease don't have to use a mouse or keyboard.

The team will use the prize money to develop their idea, with a view to launching it publicly.

In the meantime, there are a number of apps and websites that are already out there that can help the older generations make the most of the world wide web.

Here are five of the best:

1. BBC Webwise

For the basics, the BBC's Webwise site offers a huge pool of resources, including answers to questions such as "What is a search engine?" and "How do I get email?" - simple video guides showing you how to watch TV online and advice on web security.

** www.bbc.co.uk/webwise

2. Skillful Senior

This is an American website, but because it provides tutorials on universal themes - such as ergonomics (how to use a computer without causing pain), using a mouse and touch-typing - it's useful for senior citizens the world over.

** www.skillfulsenior.com

3. Good50

Powered by Google, Good50 is a search engine that's been optimised for the elderly. Results are displayed in larger fonts and the high-contrast setting makes them easier to read.

** www.good50.com

4. Eldy

A free download for Windows, Mac, or tablet, Eldy is designed to simplify any computer interface, making it less daunting for anyone using a computer for the first time. With six buttons prominently displayed, the tool makes it easy to access email and the web.

** www.eldy.eu

5. Read2Go

Making e-books accessible for those with impaired vision, Read2Go is an iPhone and iPad app that allows users to search for and download titles, then control the font style and size, as well as the background colour, to create optimal reading conditions.

** Search Read2Go in the App store

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