‘Visual Literacy’ project for students launched at SIBF - GulfToday

‘Visual Literacy’ project for students launched at SIBF


Ravindran speaks at the Sharjah International Book Fair. Kamal Kassim / Gulf Today

Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Now, a popular actor has taken this saying to heart and he is now making a pioneering effort to teach both young and old the way to read visuals. He has aptly named it “Visual Literacy” and termed it “Literacy of the 21st century.”

Popular Malayalam film actor Raveendran launched the “Visual Literacy” programme at the ongoing Sharjah International Book Festival (SIBF 2019), one of the biggest book fairs in the world, so that the message spread far and wide.

Defining “Visual Literacy,” he said, “It is the ability to interpret, use, appreciate, and create images and video using both conventional and 21st century media in ways that advance thinking, decision making, communication, and learning.”

He pointed out that visual literacy allows a deeper interaction with images of all kinds and introduces the process of analytical thinking about representation, meaning and contextual experience. In this context visual literacy is becoming more important from a curricular standpoint as we rely to a greater degree on images and visual communication strategies.

“This programme will open your eyes to the fascinating field of visual literacy and show you, what, why and, how Visual Literacy – an image-rich tool – helps you to reach more and communicate more quickly and meaningfully,” he said.

“This ability to read images is an essential part of our lives. If we didn’t have it, life, as we know it, would be impossible; our world would be unrecognisable,” he added.

“As human beings, our brains are wired for images. We process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. This is because we take in all the data from an image simultaneously while we process text in a sequential fashion.

Citing scientific researches, he said that 90 per cent of information that comes to the brain is visual and 40 per cent of all nerve fibers connected to the brain are linked to the retina. That is why visual aids in the classrooms improve learning by up to 400 per cent. Exceptional students are often visual learners.

“As our culture and so many others have increasingly adopted images to communicate, including selling, convincing, illustrating, visual literacy is really an important topic for everyone, not just those in the arts,” he said.

He has devised various course modules targeting four age groups and is planning to introduce the course in schools and universities across the UAE.

“Unlike regular book fairs which tends to be all about the publishing industry, the Sharjah International Book Fair is a cultural event focusing more on the readers,” said best-selling and critically acclaimed Indian author, Anita Nair, at the start of a conversation with moderator Chitra Raghavan, an academic, at the Intellectual Hall in SIBF recently.

“Walking through the crowded halls and seeing the programmes featuring inspiring talks and discussions with novelists and writers from all around the world, I believe, this is truly a book fair where the reading public is in the spotlight, and I am grateful to be here,” said Anita, author of Ladies Coupe and Eating Wasps, amongst several other novels and short story collections.  

Calling herself a “closet writer”, Anita said her journey to becoming an author was “one of serendipity.”

 A former advertising professional, she recalled how in the days before the internet era, she would print out stories she had written on the office printer. “One day, I inadvertently left a story behind which caught the eye of a colleague. That was the first time someone, apart from myself, had read my work. He introduced me to his friend, a journalist, who, after reviewing more stories, suggested I should look for a publisher.

“I would still have been writing in private if it weren’t for this advice,” said Anita, who has since won many national and international awards.

She sets her stories chiefly in the rural villages of Kerala, her native state in the south of India, as she is not comfortable in the urban milieu. “My characters are drawn mainly from small towns in Kerala and Tamil Nadu as these are places and people I am familiar with,” said the writer. “I understand their humour and slang, how lyrical they are in their native tongues, and the colours and scents of these landscapes.”

Related articles