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The Importance of Visual Literacy

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Visual literacy, as defined by The Association of College and Research Libraries Image Resources Interest Group, “Is a set of abilities that enables an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media.” (ACRL). While the concept itself, as well as awareness of its role in people’s everyday lives is increasingly widespread, its’ worth is still highly debated. It is evident in our daily lives, messages conveyed through billboards, television advertisements, sculptures, and magazine adds, just to name a few. However, it is frequently disputed whether being visually literate is an important skill. Does art have value solely because it is aesthetically pleasing, and what messages can be derived from each pieces’ beauty? Can functional art also convey messages, or is its purpose clearly defined in what it was created to be? These are just some of the questions to be addressed in reference to the value of visual literacy. In A Primer of Visual Literacy Dondis states, “The use of the word ‘literacy’ in conjunction with the word ‘visual’ does have enormous significance. Sight is natural; makings and understanding visual messages is natural to a point, but effectiveness on either level can only be achieved through study” (Dondis 6). Visual literacy holds value both in fine and applied arts for reasons such as practical use, aesthetic advantages, and communications between cultures. John Debes, the co-founder of the International Visual Literacy Association, first defined visual literacy as its own term in 1969. He believed it to be, “A group of vision-competencies a human being can develop by seeing and at the same time having and integrating other sensory experiences.” Debes emphasizes the ... ... middle of paper ... ...10th ed. Boston, MA: McGraw Hill, 2008. Print. Dondis, Donis A. A Primer of Visual Literacy. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1973. Print. "ACRL Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education." American Library Association. N.p., Oct. 2011. Web. 13 Nov. 2013. Baker, Frank W. "Visual Literacy: Definitions & Quotes." Visual Literacy: Definitions & Quotes. N.p., 27 Oct. 2012. Web. 13 Nov. 2013. Avgerinou, Maria D. "What Is "Visual Literacy?"" IVLA.ORG. International Visual Literacy Association, 13 Oct. 2012. Web. 13 Nov. 2013. Felten, Peter. "Visual Literacy." Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning Nov.-Dec. 2008: 60- 64. ERIC. Web. 12 Nov. 2013. Goin, Peter. "Visual LIteracy." Wiley Online Library. N.p., 2001. Web. 12 Nov. 2013. Hommel, Maggie, Ben Riegler, and Kimberly Ulrich. "The Importance of Visual Literacy." Why Visual Literacy? CCB, n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2013.
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