Beyond the glass ceiling: Towards a multi-sensory definition of functional literacy
Odendal, Matthys Johannes
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The world is becoming increasingly visual (Kress, 2009:1).The visually literate viewer should be able to gather data, place it in context, and determine its validity. A huge visual world opened up for the users of new technology. It is therefore no surprise that definitions of literacy have placed a huge premium on the reader to be able to interpret visual cues. Even in its simplest definition, the ability to read and write, the understanding of the concept of literacy is based on the visual. Although new literacies and recent orthographies also emphasise the role of context and the interaction of different modalities and learning history, like the social practice approach, it also focus on literacy events in which the written word is still the fundamental focus. In other words, (visual) texts remain the point of departure rather than seeing the written word as one part of a larger 'material ecology' of signs and meanings. This means that the majority of studies in the field of literacy focus on the individual's ability to interpret the visual and neglects how other senses permute in literacy events.
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