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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Understanding visuals in HIV/AIDS education in South Africa: differences between literate and low-literate audiences
Authors:Carstens, AdeliaISNI
Maes, AlfonsISNI
Gangla-Birir, LilianISNI
Periodical:African Journal of AIDS Research
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:health education
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.2989/16085900609490383
Abstract:The authors report on a research project aimed at determining the scope and nature of differences in picture comprehension between literate and low-literate audiences in the context of HIV and AIDS. Structured interviews were held with 30 low-literate and 24 literate adult speakers of African languages from Pretoria and the township of KwaMhlanga, South Africa. The responses were coded and analysed both qualitatively and quantitatively. Consistent with previous research, the authors found that purely analogical visuals pose relatively few interpretation problems across the literacy spectrum. Literate and low-literate respondents recognized human beings and familiar analogous objects equally successfully. The interpretation of abstract items was problematic for respondents at both literacy levels, but relatively more so for low-literate respondents. Purely symbolic or conventional abstract elements, such as speech and thought balloons, and purely mathematical symbols are difficult for low-literate individuals since they do not have any analogical residue that will trigger relevant meaning aspects of the visual. Metaphors are difficult when they require culture-specific knowledge. The results strongly suggest that designers should exploit the expressive power of the human body in constructing (abstract) meaning. All humans have comparable experiences with associated basic actions and bodily expressions. Therefore, facial expressions and body postures and positions are powerful in transferring complex messages. The authors advise that pictorial metaphors, art styles that distort objects, complex pictures with partially symbolic content, as well as abstract symbols borrowed from written language should be omitted where possible. Bibliogr., sum. [Journal abstract]