Navigating the Complexities of Visuals as Communication



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“Learners perceive visuals as communicating information” is a deceptively simple sentence that starts the introduction to the second theme of the Framework for Visual Literacy in Higher Education: Companion Document to the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (VL Framework). This seemingly direct statement hides complexities, as perception is not absolute—and the bounds for what can be considered a visual are ever shifting. Building the capacity to recognize these complexities and develop strategies to grow one’s visual communication skills is a continuous process. Learners need opportunities to experiment with unpacking the layers of meaning by applying both theory and technical skills when reading and creating visuals. In this section, each chapter’s authors find innovative ways of pairing visual literacy concepts, knowledge practices, and dispositions with disciplinary and real-world examples. They guide us through visual rhetoric theory, help us examine how visuals are used as evidence in different fields, encourage us to build innovative communities of practice, and critically consider our responsibility to push further to open visual literacy to all.


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Visual Literacy, Visual Communication, Academic Libraries


Schumacher, Sara, “Navigating the Complexities of Visuals as Communication.” in Unframing the Visual: Visual Literacy Pedagogy in Academic Libraries and Information Spaces, edited by Maggie Murphy, Stephanie Beene, Katie Greer, Sara Schumacher, and Dana Statton Thompson. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2023.