Skip to main content

Jessie Ball duPont Library

Three Part Conference Presentation

Presentation for the 2016 TAM/TPT/STA Joint Conference in Nashville

Visual Literacy - Definitions


Visual literacy is a set of abilities that enables an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media. Visual literacy skills equip a learner to understand and analyze the contextual, cultural, ethical, aesthetic, intellectual, and technical components involved in the production and use of visual materials. A visually literate individual is both a critical consumer of visual media and a competent contributor to a body of shared knowledge and culture.

AAM - Visual Literacy and Visual Thinking Strategies

In his 1997 article Thoughts on Visual Literacy, Philip Yenawine describes visual literacy as

"…the ability to find meaning in imagery. It involves a set of skills ranging from simple identification (naming what one sees) to complex interpretation on contextual, metaphoric and philosophical levels. Many aspects of cognition are called upon, such as personal association, questioning, speculating, analyzing, fact-finding, and categorizing. Objective understanding is the premise of much of this literacy, but subjective and affective aspects of knowing are equally important."


Visual literacy is the ability to recognize and critically appreciate meaning in visual content and to use visual elements to create effective communication.