After downloading and installing ADOBE AIR and then the AIM Explorer application, open the AIM Explorer by either clicking on the desktop icon or selecting the application from the Program menu. AIM Explorer on-screen item selection and navigation may be accomplished using a mouse, tab/return keystroke combinations, or via JAWS screen reader.
On the AIM Explorer splash screen, you will be given the option of logging in to an existing account, creating a new account, or conducting an Exploration without an account.
Creating a New Account
Enter the requested information in the prompt box (name, email address, user name, password) and click "submit." Your account will be created automatically.
Existing Account Access
Once a user account is established, individual/student names may be added and removed. Clicking on the name of an existing student will display that individual’s preferences from any prior explorations, and a complete exploration report is also available to registered users from this screen.
When creating student accounts, care should be taken to protect student privacy. The use of coded student names (StudentA, Class12, etc.) is strongly encouraged.
Explore Without an Account
All features of the AIM Explorer may be accessed without establishing an account, including creation of a preferences and summary report once an Exploration is complete. However, none of the information is saved and it cannot be retrieved for comparison at a later date.
Setting up an Exploration
The Exploration Set-Up screen requires the user to select a grade-level reading passage (grades 1, 3, 5, 7, & 9 are available).
After a grade-level passage is selected, the user may select one or more of the reading supports available in the AIM Explorer.
Either "Hearing and seeing the text (read aloud and highlighted)" or Highlighting the text while reading (without hearing it read)," may be selected, but not both.
Items not selected will not be displayed later in the Exploration. For example, if "Enlarging text and graphics" is not checked, no magnification options will be subsequently displayed.
Once Exploration options have been selected, clicking on the "begin" button moves the Exploration to the next screen.
Enlarging Text and Graphics
The Magnification feature replicates the function of a screen magnifier; it does not merely increase the text size. Therefore, when a chosen magnification level places text off screen (generally 3X and above), the text will expand beyond the viewable area and the cursor then automatically allows for the orienting and re-positioning of the text to allow the individual/student to see all of it. Once a magnification level is selected, clicking on the "done" button will move the Exploration to the next screen.
Changing the Colors of the Text and/or Background
A variety of the most commonly used color selections for text and background are available from this screen:
Hearing and Seeing the Text (Read Aloud and Highlighted)
The settings on this screen determine how the text will be read aloud to the individual/student:
The speech can be tested using the "Try It!" button and controlled using the Speech Controller palette.
Alternatively, the individual/student may decide that the Read aloud function is not useful and choose to disable this function:
Once a voice type (human or synthetic) and a reading speed are selected, clicking on the "done" button will move the Exploration to the next page.
On this screen, the individual/student is asked to determine whether or not simultaneous highlighting is useful, and, if yes, whether they prefer the highlighting to be at the word, sentence, or paragraph level (synthetic voice) or at the sentence or paragraph level (human voice). Based on previous voice selection, available choices will be automatically displayed. If “Highlighting the text while reading (without hearing it read)” has been selected as an option, that option is also presented.
Changing the Layout of the Text
On this screen, the individual/student is asked to explore which type of page (single; double column) and style of text (single spacing; expanded spacing) is preferred.
On this screen, the individual/student is asked to experiment with image layout—full image (large), thumbnail image (small), or text equivalent (none).
From this screen, all selected reading supports may be adjusted prior to beginning the reading exercise.
Ready to Read
The individual/student is now presented with an "alert" screen indicating that a comparison of reading ease, with the selected supports and without, is about to begin.
Content with Settings
On this screen, the individual/student is presented with a reading passage suitable for the grade level selected on the first screen. All chosen reading supports are active. If read aloud has been chosen, a reading rate palette is also available. In addition, if an individual/student has selected read aloud as a support, all on-screen descriptive text (if any) will be automatically read aloud.
After reading the selection, the individual/student is presented with a series of four questions:
- How easy was it to understand the reading passage?
- How easy was it to read the passage?
- How difficult was it to follow the main concept of the passage?
- How difficult was it to see the letters in the text?
Following each question, the individual/student is asked to respond by selecting very easy, easy, difficult, or very difficult. NOTE: an individual/student may proceed without responding to these questions, but the subsequent comparison of reading ease or difficulty with or without supports will be impacted.
Content without Settings
The individual/student is then asked to read a passage suitable for the same chosen grade level with no supports. Following this passage reading, the individual/student is again presented with the same set of four questions as before, and asked to select from the same set of four responses.
Following the completion of this section, a summary of results screen is presented.
These results are included on the next screen, which also shows date and notes fields (for students whose exploration has been recorded via user log-in), and a link to the "AIM Products Feature Chart" on the AIM Center web site. This summary screen may be printed.