What Is Literacy? The Centre for Literacy has a good overview:
Literacy is a complex set of abilities needed to understand and use the dominant symbol systems of a culture – alphabets, numbers, visual icons – for personal and community development. The nature of these abilities, and the demand for them, vary from one context to another.
In a technological society, literacy extends beyond the functional skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening to include multiple literacies such as visual, media, and information literacy.
These new literacies focus on the capacity of individuals to use and make critical judgements about the information they encounter on a daily basis.