draft Visual Literacy Standards now available

A draft of the ACRL/IRIG Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (Draft) is now available.

We’d like to invite feedback and comments on the Standards. Comments can be posted to this blog, or emailed to Denise Hattwig dhattwig@uw.edu.

The open comment period will be from February 10 – March 31, 2011.

We are very interested in your thoughts on the Standards, and your input is appreciated.  Thank you!


  1. I don’t think of your first standard — on “need” — to be something that defines visual literacy, but rather is a skill that is often useful for the visually literate person (whereas your other standards make more sense to me as central, necessary elements of the concept).

    In thinking about this further, I realize that my reticence doesn’t really make sense: if the standards include production/creation as a core element, then of course determining when to select something visual over another medium is central.

    Instead, I take issue with the “need” language itself. It suggests that there is an inherent or fundamental lack in one’s project, which (the right) image or graphic will singularly fill. But surely this is not always the case: much of the time when we choose visual elements for our projects — professional or personal, rhetorical or artistic — “need” would not adequately describe our reasons for selecting this image or that graphic, much less anything visual over another medium.

    I recommend something less specific in that first standard that conveys this: “appropriate” or “effective” or even “engaging” would each work better to reflect this wider range of uses.

  2. Also, just curious why you chose to hedge on the last standard by using the modifier “many”? Why is that important?

  3. Hi Joanna, I got to look at the draft document sooner than I thought.

    I don’t have a lot of thoughts. I spent most time with the standards that are closest to what I try to teach students, and I found them rather thorough — Standard 3.2 is great. Standard 3.4 seems oddly tacked on, though — surely part of the process of the others? On the other hand, may be worth separating out.

    Standard 4 seems a bit thin — I would think we need something on working out who created and supplied and framed the images, ie source criticism – tracing back websites etc. But that is my only concrete suggestion.

    Have you also run it by the art historians?


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