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What visual literacy is not!

By Emma Jefferies and Jamie Steane

Abstract

This paper intends to help design educators reach a more informed understanding of visual literacy by stating what we already know it is not, in order to promote discussion on how it can be fostered. This paper is based on Jefferies’ PhD research from an empirical visual experiment carried out on a wide range of design practitioners, design students and the general public.\ud \ud Specific terms of influence such as ‘fixed’, ‘cross-disciplines’ and ‘accessibility’ were highlighted for discussion when considering what visual literacy is not, and were consequently used to frame the problem. When considering each of these influences in terms of seeing; (a) Viewing visual language as a ‘fixed’ vocabulary does not allow for each working context to have its own visual value system. (b) Literacy of ‘cross-disciplines’ may not enable a way of seeing to be transferred between each design discipline. (c) ‘Accessibility’ in terms of a student’s ability to read or write an image can not be determined from a designer’s final product, as each individual and context is different.\ud \ud It is proposed that debating the three identified areas will heighten design educators’ awareness and provide a valuable basis for future pedagogy practices

Topics: W200
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:nrl.northumbria.ac.uk:5995

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