Visual Literacy as Universal Language

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Visual Literacy encompasses the capacity to perceive and understand various forms of visual content such as drawings, photos, and textual presentations. This aptitude enables us to decipher and construct our own understanding of the message conveyed by an image. Nevertheless, we frequently underestimate the significance of visual literacy in our everyday existence, neglecting to acknowledge the deeper significance embedded within the images we come across.

In his video “Visual Literacy: Why we need it!”, Brian Kennedy defines Visual Literacy as the ability to derive meaning from images, comparing it to the universality of music (Kennedy, 2010). Every image carries a story and significance for its creator and intended audience.

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According to Ryan (2012), visual literacy involves the skill of interpreting images and communicating their meaning to ourselves and others. This competency requires not only the physical ability to see, but also cognitive abilities such as attention, perception, critical thinking, evaluation, and synthesis with other sensory information and experiences.

According to our textbook, Visual Literacy involves creating and consuming images that must be perceived. It requires individuals to possess the capacity to analyze, interpret, and emotionally connect with the image. Kennedy’s definition is clear and straightforward for extracting meaning from an image. It emphasizes the necessity of cognitive thinking and evaluation to understand the image’s identity and symbolism.

Visual Literacy is the skill of understanding and interpreting the meaning and message conveyed by an image. It serves as a universal language enabling us to comprehend an image’s intention. Even though images communicate silently, we possess the capability to provide them with a voice or textual context. An image represents something we observe and can visualize, holding unique personal significance for each person.

Visual Literacy, similar to music, allows us to interpret the meaning behind an image by understanding its melody or message. This ability greatly impacts communication and global understanding by enabling viewers to discern the intended representation of a place or concept. By perceiving and experiencing the image, we can individually derive various definitions and interpretations based on our unique perspectives.

One significant aspect is that the image creates an impact on each individual. It has the ability to communicate silently, conveying its representation to people of diverse nationalities and beliefs. Visual Literacy serves as a universal language that ascribes meaning to the subject, conveying it in a nonverbal form. In this case, Visual Literacy enables viewers to interpret and define the meaning of an image, such as a photograph.

Everyday, we come across this form of literacy, even when it includes text within an image. It allows us to visually comprehend Times Square in New York City, while also providing a definition of the iconic location to viewers or a wide audience.

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Visual Literacy as Universal Language. (2016, Nov 27). Retrieved from

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