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Visual Literacy: What is it?


by Alan Melson 2 Jun 2008

Every day this week, Associate Professor Michael Gibson and Assistant Professor Keith Owens, who both teach communication design in UNT’s Department of Design, will address a different question related to thinking critically about what we absorb visually. Technology brings us Facebook and You Tube, allows us to connect in an instant with people all over […]

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Every day this week, Associate Professor Michael Gibson and Assistant Professor Keith Owens, who both teach communication design in UNT’s Department of Design, will address a different question related to thinking critically about what we absorb visually. Technology brings us Facebook and You Tube, allows us to connect in an instant with people all over the world, and makes it ever easier for anyone to create, communicate and “brand” themselves or their work visually. All of this means it’s important to go beyond simply identifying the thousands of images, symbols, gestures we see every day and learn to understand their meaning and context. – Anne Bothwell

What is visual literacy and why should people care about it?

By Keith Owens and Michael Gibson

“Simply put, people who are visually literate know how to construct meaning from visual images. To do this, a person has to be able to interpret the content of visual images, examine whatever social or cultural impact they may have, and then articulate the purposes served by these images from the viewpoint of both the audience and the image-maker.

“A visually literate person understands not only how to decode and derive meaning from what he or she observes, but also how to create and effectively disseminate visual communications that can be clearly understood and acted upon by a given audience.

‘To communicate effectively in [contemporary society], you have to be able to interpret, create and select images that convey a wide range of meanings. ‘ —Dr. Anne Bamford, Univ. of Technology, Sydney, Australia.

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