Visual Literacy

Visual Literacy in Business – CGD218

Visual literacy has many interpretations. Factors such as culture, perception, gender, cocultures, past experiences, education, and more affect everyone’s experience with visual literacy. Three activities occur when we receive visual stimuli; Selection – our brain sifts through all the information and focuses on certain things so it doesn’t get overwhelmed, Organization – our brain categorizes the information in a sort of filing cabinet for future reference, and Perception – being aware of what we say and what it means to us.

Compare and Contrast

The International Visual Literacy Association (IVLA) defines digital literacy as “a group of vision-related competencies a human being can develop by seeing, and at the same time, having and integrating other sensory experience. [These competencies] enable a visually literate person to discriminate and interpret the visual actions, objects, and symbols that he [or she] encounters…to communicate with others…and comprehend and enjoy visual communication.” (R Williams, 2012). Brian Kennedy (2010) explains Visual literacy as “the ability to construct meaning from images” (TEDxTalks). The textbook, Learning to See – A Guide to Visual Literacy, goes in depth about all the things that can influence visual literacy. A visual message can be interoperated differently based on each individual’s perception and outside factors influence perception. Brian Kennedy spoke about images being a universal language which I believe it can be but as the textbook pointed out not everyone would perceive the images into the same message. Culture, age, gender, and experiences influence visual stimuli and the end story is most likely different. For example, a highly photoshopped image of a model could be appealing to one person while the other sees the model as fake and too skinny. I think younger audiences are affected by these types of magazines and it has created body image issues.

Visual Literacy – Universal language

I think visual literacy can be a universal language but without context or even text the images are left for interpretation. When looking at cave paintings from prehistoric times it’s easy to establish a few different stories to go along with the drawings. Or if communicating with a friend in emoji’s the message may not be clear and the imagination could get carried away. I do believe visual literacy can help communicate with others when the spoken or written word won’t but it might take some trial an error to get the right message across.

Communication and Global Understanding

Using visual literacy to communicate globally is the future and has been helpful in the past. Converting images into stories is nothing new, it’s just more accessible and utilized. TV commercials, magazines, billboards and advertisements on buses – visual messaging is everywhere. Trump shaking hands with Kim Jong Un will be an iconic picture with a strong message across the country. The twin towers image is a universal image and the meaning is known across the globe. Both of these examples have a back story and context. Communicating globally is tricky and should be well thought out so everyone the message is going to understands it, if not there could be horrific misconceptions.


In conclusion, visual literacy is extremely important the human race as long as it’s well thought out and others perception is taken into account. It can be used to get a message across without having anything in writing. Many characteristics influence perception of visual literacy and should be taken into account as to not offend or misinterpret the message.


Williams R. (2012). Learning to See – A Guide to Visual Literacy

Tedxdarmouth – Brian Kennedy – Visual Literacy: Why We Need It TEDxTalks –

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