IVLA History

    The organization that we now know as the International Visual Literacy Association can be traced back to a meeting in Rochester, New York in the fall of 1968 when a group of people interested in various aspects of visuals in education and communication met to plan a conference on visual literacy. This group, which was co-chaired by Jack Debes of Kodak and Clarence Williams of the University of Rochester, included Sam Ross, Colin Turbayne, Paul Wendt and Richard Nibeck.

    In March of 1969 about 350 people from many disciplines gathered in Rochester to present papers and discuss their theories and applications of visuals. Prior to the initial conference, there was stated intention to have future conferences or an organization devoted to visual literacy. But, the participants were caught up in the excitement of what they had experienced there and wanted more. To give you a sense of that early conference, the following ‘One Person’s Perspective’ by Dennis Pett (1988) of Indiana University is available in this site [click here for full text ]. Dennis edited the IVLA Newsletter for 18 years with the assistance of his co-editor, his wife, Jean.

    Since Dennis wrote the preceding article for the last IVLA Newsletter that he and Jean edited and produced, the organization has continued to publish the newsletter several times during each year. IVLA also continues to have an annual conference and publishes a book of “Selected Readings” after each conference. In the past and in addition to the conferences held in the United States, research symposia have been held on a triennial basis in a various countries such as Sweden, Greece, England, and the Netherlands. Papers from these symposia are also published. Since 2001, it has been established that a triennial, primarily research-oriented conference will be held outside the US. Finally, another publication of IVLA is the “Journal of Visual Literacy” (JVL), a juried collection of research papers which is published semi-annually.

    The Visual Literacy Collection was established at the Hayden Library of the Arizona State University in 1989 and contains the collections of Jack Debes, Joel Benedict, and much material from IVLA members. It was dedicated ‘The Benedict Visual Literacy Collection’ in 1994 to honor the generous financial grant from the Benedicts.

    And, since you are reading this, you have discovered the latest form of IVLA publishing, on the Internet. Thanks for visiting us and please explore the rest of our site and the many links to other visual people and places.