Visual Literacy

Visual Literacy Resources

International Visual Literacy Association This site offers information on conferences, publications, and resources and provides a definition of visual literacy

Visual Literacy White Paper An overview of visual literacy

On-line Visual Literacy Project (Pomona College) A guide to the basic elements of visual communication like shape, scale, line, direction, value, etc.

Visual Literacy in Higher Education This paper explores the emergence of visual literacy for learning and the need to incorporate it into the curriculum.

Reading Photographs (UNC School of Education) Uses questions to decode, evaluate, and respond to photographic images.

Ways of Seeing: Evidence and Learning in the History Classroom Authors explore how to engage students in using new media and visuals to develop a sophisticated approach to history

Visual Literacy Article focuses on the visual literacy in higher education in the U.S.

Visual Literacy in Teaching and Learning  An introduction to visual literacy and a review of studies

Image Resources

Images on the Web (University of Puget Sound)

Finding images (Brigham Young University)

Copyright Free Images (University of Puget Sound)



In SIMON, add the words "pictorial works" or "portraits" to your keyword search, to find books that are heavily illustrated with photographs or drawings.

What is Visual Literacy?


There are many definitions of visual literacy. The term was first coined by John Debes in 1969 who wrote the following:


“Visual Literacy refers to a group of vision-competencies a human being can develop by seeing and at the same time having and integrating other sensory experiences. The development of these competencies is fundamental to normal human learning. When developed, they enable a visually literate person to discriminate and interpret the visible actions, objects, symbols, natural or man-made, that he encounters in his environment. Through the creative use of these competencies, he is able to communicate with others. Through the appreciative use of these competencies, he is able to comprehend and enjoy the masterworks of visual communication.”


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Books about Visual Literacy

Visual Literacy Tools

Last Update: 20 Dec 02:44