Visual Literacy is the ability to recognize, interpret and understand visual information, to receive, process, and respond to visual messages. A visually literate person knows how different visual elements contribute the meaning of an image as a whole. Visual literacy therefore also includes the ability to produce visual communication, and a highly visually literate person understands how to makevisual statements that are effective and affective.

Although the natural physiological mechanism of human sight is automatic, the concept of visual literacy implies that our ability to see, to understand visual images and to use the visual mode to convey ideas, is something that is learnt, and can be developed: ‘Visual literacy studies positions the visual as a significant language through which we interpret and interact with our world, and suggest that we develop an ability to critically read and view images’ (Albers et al 2011).

Implicit in the concept of visual literacy is the idea that images have structures that can be analysed, in terms of the basic visual elements (dot, line, shape, direction, tone, colour, texture, dimension, motion etc.), and techniques of composition (visual syntax). These may be related to processes of human perception and universal response to visual stimuli (see Gestalt psychology), but they are also related to cultural and social codes, conventions and attitudes, and construct messages that are created, shared, and interpreted within specific social and cultural contexts.

Albers, P., Vasquez, V., & Harste, J. C. (2011). Making visual analysis critical. In D. Lapp, & D. Fisher (Eds.), Handbook of research on teaching the English language arts. London, UK: Routledge.Retrieved from

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