Visual Communication

In Reading images: an introduction to visual literacy Melissa Thibault and David Walbert define visual literacy as "the ability to see, to understand, and ultimately to think, create, and communicate graphically [...] Like traditional literacy, visual literacy encompasses more than one level of skill.. The first level ... is simple knowledge: basic identification of the subject or elements in a photograph, work of art, or graphic. The skills necessary to identify details of images are included in many disciplines; for example, careful observation is essential to scientific inquiry. But while accurate observation is important, understanding what we see and comprehending visual relationships are at least as important. These higher-level visual literacy skills require critical thinking, and they are essential to a student’s success in any content area in which information is conveyed through visual formats such as charts and maps. They are also beneficial to students attempting to make sense of the barrage of images they may face in texts and Web resources. "

'Visual literacy' is a contested term - its implied analogy with spoken or written language can be misleading and some resources may focus on helping students to understand visual communication but ignore the need for them to learn to communicate effectively themselves. However, the presence of an established name for this aspect of visual learning does simplify the search for useful resources. Many of these come from the US and Australia where there appears to be more sustained interest in supporting visual literacy in schools, so I've included some resources aimed at school teachers or children where they would also be helpful for university students. (All external links will open in a new window)

Some general sites relating to visual literacy & communication
Websites with examples and explanations of different kinds of charts, diagrams and other visual 'texts'
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