Visual Literacy


Visual literacy is the ability to “speak visual.” The Toledo Museum of Art defines visual literacy as the ability to read, comprehend and write visual language. The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) defines visual literacy as a set of abilities that enables an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use and create images and visual media. Visual literacy is a skill that is critical to effective communication, creativity and design thinking.

Learn more about visual literacy


The University of Toledo and the Toledo Museum of Art strengthened their partnership to expand the teaching of visual literacy to UToledo students. The two organizations are working collaboratively to develop a campus-wide initiative in visual literacy that is available to all UToledo students across all majors.

Visual Literacy Curriculum is being utilized in the following UToledo courses:

  • HON1010 Ideas and Society
  • HON2020 Multicultural Literatures
  • HON3010 Community Enagagement
  • HON4950 Honors Seminar
  • UC1130 Information Literacy for College Research
  • NURS5160 Professional Socialization II

In addition to providing opportunities for UToledo students to master the skill to “speak visual,” the engagement of students in visual literacy early in their college career can increase retention and improve student success. The visual literacy provided by this collaboration to UToledo students will enhance their ability to be effective citizens of Toledo and the world. Since UToledo produces one third of the region’s employees, this will serve to enhance the city and the region.

quote twoThis collaboration leverages the strengths of TMA’s Center of Visual Expertise (COVE) and experience teaching visual literacy to K-12 students as well as professionals in the industrial and manufacturing fields with UToledo’s Department of Art in developing art-based education, Jesup Scott Honors College in interdisciplinary learning, and UToledo Libraries in supporting information literacy.

The effort is led by Dr. Heidi Appel, dean of the Jesup Scott Honors College at UToledo, and Mike Deetsch, Director of Education and Engagement at TMA, and involves a team of about 20 faculty and staff from both institutions who are donating their time to this partnership.

The visual literacy initiative was made possible with financial support from Judith Herb and Betsy Brady, both generous longtime supporters of both institutions.

Last Updated: 6/27/22