What is Visual Literacy?

What do we really see and why do we use the word visionary?  

(Reading time: 2 mins)

Everything we see is an image, think about it; every person we meet, every dialogue we engage, every report we read. Today we live in a media-driven, image saturated culture so it is imperative to broaden our scope of what it means to be “literate”, its more than reading and writing, and particularly important for organisations to ensure their people understand the vision and direction of the collective.

Visual literacy can be seen as a toolbox, its a form of critical thinking that enhances our intellectual capacity, its not a new concept; visual art, visual studies, visual culture, visual communications, visual graphics are all part of how we iterate and integrate the capacity of our senses to comprehend the world around us.

Visual literacy is interdisciplinary and its collaborative, its the universal language. 90% of all the information we take in from the world we take in visually. 30% of the brain cortex is given over to vision and we actually read non-text 60,000 times faster than we read text.


We need to look so that we really see what is in front of us, just as we need to listen so that we can really hear.


A visually literate person can decode and comprehend the world around them with more accuracy, transparency and authenticity putting their experience in full focus. Visual images have the power to evoke our emotions and therefore bring power to our senses. They have a visceral impact on our behaviour, they determine how we negotiate the world.

How are your staff negotiating their world?

Our eyes are prepared for observations and so are our minds, reading visuals that are reality as opposed to illusions or representations depends on our imaginations and past experiences. Our minds are programmed to interpret images in a certain way and our expectations shape those observations. Reading visually is vital because meaning does not come first, vision does and it colours our observations.

Visual language is perception, identification, association, observation and visual literacy is the methodology of enhancing, interpreting and directing this, evidencing for an observable reality.


The power of the picture (mental or otherwise) is two fold, what it is and what it stands for.


We use the word visionary because of its desirability in creating foresight and fostering imagination, this leads to clarity and innovation. All very powerful attributes to any high-functioning organisation.

If you would like to chat to me about this further please contact me at kellyann@imagineer.me

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