Why Is Visual Literacy Important

Kennedy’s definition of visual literacy is the ability to construct meaning from images; it’s not a skill, it uses skills as a tool box. It’s a form of critical thinking that enhances your intellectual capacity (Dartmouth, 2010). Our text book states that visual literacy is the competent creation and consumption of visual messages (Ryan, 2012). A visual literacy person can read and write visual language and can encode and decode visual language.

The importance of programs that teach how to practically apply art concepts are beginning to take shape as the media rapidly gives reason to form a resistance. By understanding how the media creates consumers, one can, through a good understanding of persuasive mechanisms, form a resistance to the media’s powers. Visual literacy can help students become more aware of their individual learning styles and of those around them. This knowledge base is now being seen as a necessity in educational environments to support collaborative learning.

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Visual literacy gives people the ability to communicate in one universal language, which is needed to bridge cultural gaps in our environment. Our text book also states that visual communication theories offer us different perspectives with which to explain and understand how people assign meaning to what they sense. A perspective represents a way of looking at the world. A theory is a set of interrelated propositions or principles designed to answer a question or explain something.

Visual communication theories help us explain and predict responses to external visual, nonverbal, and verbal stimuli. In this section, we will overview some of the most prominent theories of visual communication and a model of the human communication process (Ryan, 2012). The development of these competencies is fundamental to normal human learning. When developed, they enable a visually literate person to discriminate and interpret the visual actions, objects, and/or symbols, natural or man-made that is encountered in the environment.

Through the creative use of these competencies, we are able to communicate with others. Through the appreciative use of these competencies, we are able to comprehend and enjoy the masterworks of visual communications. Visual journalism had a rocky start on the Web, with text-minded companies building text-minded Internet experiences. But that’s changed. The new wave of image- and info-based journalism has forced us to rethink our definitions of storytelling.

Mobile devices, Web plug-ins, and social media have not only changed journalism but also sped up its growth and expanded the skill set journalists must have. Now, in addition to video, audio, animated maps, illustrated timelines, and full-blown interactive environments, we have innovations on and mash-ups of all of the above. Information doesn’t just sit in a pie graph anymore. It moves (Ryan, 2012).


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