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Topic: Magic for the Blind
Message: Posted by: Anton Binder Magic (Oct 17, 2016 02:22AM)
I've been presented with a challenge. A friend works for a local blind service veterans care home. The residents are of various ages and degrees of disability. All of them injured on active service in various conflicts from WWII to Northern Ireland, The Falklands, Iraq etc. Few of them are totally blind but all are seriously visually impaired and some have hearing difficulties too. This doesn't prevent them from leading active lives (my friend has recently been leading them in sessions of archery!) and they apparently all have a wicked and black sense of humour (they are ex service men and women after all).

I think you can probably guess my challenge. I've been asked whether I could devise a magic entertainment for them. I've given it some thought and have come to realise that 99% of close-up illusion relies on the visual. Any ideas or thoughts for magic specifically tailored for the visually impaired would be most appreciated.

Just for your info as I'm new here, I'm based in Southern England and my act is walk-around, table hopping adaptable to parlour for larger gigs. Mostly cards and coins and a little mentalism. My persona is experienced urbane hipster, charming, funny but not outright comedy.

Whaddya got?
Message: Posted by: Cliffg37 (Oct 17, 2016 09:47AM)
If you are a mentalist, could there be a book test in Braille?
Message: Posted by: Keith Raygor (Oct 17, 2016 10:15AM)
I've done 3 or 4 of these (veterans homes are near and dear to my heart) and learned that blind persons can have increased tactile senses. I used sponge balls successfully, as well as a drawing duplication. What I learned is that a good portion of my material was useable, but I needed to describe the scene and actions with more detail, so that it helped everyone enjoy the fun.

P.S. For anyone that thinks sponge balls and drawing duplications don't go together - don't worry. I didn't present myself as a mentalist, and they only cared that someone brought them entertainment of a type they hadn't experienced while blind. You'd know from their reactions that it works, if you've done it.
Message: Posted by: Mary Mowder (Oct 17, 2016 11:00AM)
I recently did a Scarf through wrist for a blind girl of 11. I only did it because her Mother mentioned that she enjoyed untying knots. I was very surprised at how much she like it. I did not let her untie the knot after but perhaps I should have. I was concerned that untying my scarf (which is not slick silk) would be harder to deal with than untying a knot in a rope or cord. I did let her feel the solidness of the knot after the penetration.

-Mary Mowder
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Oct 18, 2016 10:32AM)
You can also consider effects based on smell, sound or feel/touch, etc. Also any kind of mental or influence magic or effects could work as well.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Oct 18, 2016 12:13PM)
In my school programs, I do/did a segment on ILLUSION. I explained to the students that our five senses are not infallible. When the senses "transmit" to the brain, those senses can confuse the brain, and, the result is an illusion. I emphasized that the more intelligent we are, the easier it is for our brains to experience such illusions, so, they shouldn't be embarrassed if they were fooled.

I wanted them to realize that I was going to fool them, without making fools of them!

I used the "classic boomerangs to illustrate the Joseph Jastrow area illusion. I also used the "What's Next" (4 spots, 1 spot, 6 spots, 3 spots, and, finally 8 spots). I did not expose the "What's Next" principle.

Then I did the silk thru the microphone as a "test" to see if they understood! The routine played very well, especially in high schools. I didn't expose the penetration, either.

The above would probably not be suitable for your situation, but, the following TACTILE illusion would!

In Ottakar Fischer's "Illustrated Magic", There is a tactile illusion that the entire audience can "do" for themselves with a little adjustment. The book pictured a small ball (about 2" diameter) The picture showed a hand with fingers crossed, touching the ball. A person touching the ball with crossed fingers (second finger over the index finger) and touching the ball so that both fingertips were in contact with the ball's surface would experience a tactile illusion! He would "feel" two balls!

I didn't want to carry around 500 little balls! I asked the kids to cross their fingers, as above noted, and,touch the end of their nose, with both finger tips. They could "feel" two noses!

It's a "subjective" illusion, in that the person must do it for him/herself.. Other senses that are subjective are taste and smell. (Chemicals can produce perfumes that smell like roses! Other chemicals can produce artificial flavors.

This may stimulate your thinking.

My dear friend, the late Dennis Loomis, on a tour for National School Assemblies, was booked in a state school for physically handicapped kids. The first 10 rows had hearing impaired kids, and a teacher stood beside Denny, and "signed" his patter. Of course, his timing was "challenged"!

But, THAT was nothing! The next 10 rows of kids were blind. A teacher DESCRIBED Denny's "actions"! Denny told me that it was weird hearing a lay person describing his actions.

Years before, I had volunteered to do my magic act for a physically handicapped. elementary aged kids' summer camp. During the program, a boy about 10, sitting next to another boy, about the same age, was continually talking to the other boy. I'm a pro. I don't let such things bother me. After the program, I learned that the second boy was blind, and the first boy was telling the blind boy what was happening.
Message: Posted by: Anton Binder Magic (Oct 18, 2016 01:46PM)
Some great ideas guys thank you all.

CliffgS37. A book test using Braille is a fantastic idea. I guess to do that I might have to learn Braille myself though. Or at least give the impression I can. Hmmm. Maybe I could simplify it to some large cards with Braille messages. Does anyone know if there are Braille playing cards? There must be.

Keith Raygor. Yep this might be where I stop being snobby and introduce the old sponge balls into my act!

Mary Mowder. That's a touching story. I think the key for me would be not to patronize the vets. My friend says they will just be pleased that anyone has come to entertain them. As we all know the tricks are always less important than the entertaining personality. Can you point me to a good source for a scarf through wrist? It's not a routine I know well.

Mindpro. That's the direction my thoughts are going in too.

Dick Oslund. Wow! Thank you for your considered response. Great anecdotes too. I feel that using the care workers to sign or describe would be a good way to involve them in the act. The vets would probably get a kick out of me messing with their carer's perceptions and having them doubt their own senses would be fun for them to experience.

Thanks again people and keep those ideas coming.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Oct 18, 2016 01:48PM)
There is a couple discussion for doing tricks for the blind in the Banquet section of the Café. You will need to post 50 posts before you will see that topic.

Be aware, doing this kind of magic will take much more time for each presentation then usual, and it has to be on an individual bases.
Message: Posted by: Anton Binder Magic (Oct 18, 2016 02:08PM)
Thanks Bill Hegbli. I'd better get posting then! ;)
Message: Posted by: Mary Mowder (Oct 18, 2016 02:53PM)
I learned it from another Magician but I've heard it is in Mark Wilson's Book.

I saw an explanation on line but it is not as strong as the one I do. It is similar but I can let go of the version I do and it feels tight to the spectator. I think the tie is about the same but it takes playing with it to refine it to feeling right and being something you don't have to hold in place. I practiced on my ankle so it also helps to keep you limber.


I use a long scarf (about 40" X 12") to minimize extra cloth that gets in the way. Some people like silky but I use a more chiffon type scarf (for a solid grip) both have their advantages. A small over all pattern like spots or a solid color can hide anything that could possibly show.

Great for Kids or Adults. Play it up and have fun.

-Mary Mowder
Message: Posted by: Anton Binder Magic (Oct 18, 2016 03:17PM)
Thanks Mary. I have Mark Wilson's book. I'll dig it out and have a look.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Oct 18, 2016 08:28PM)
Anton! Glad you liked it! Hope you can use the idea.

The Dissolving Knot is on page 271 in Mark Wilson. The silk penetration through arm, follows the Dissolve.

If you have Tarbell, the Dissolving Knot is on page 365, and the Al Baker Handkerchief Thru Arm is on page 385

Charlie Miller performs the knot and the silk thru arm on Joe Stevens' GREATER MAGIC VIDEO LIBRARY (VHS) TAPE #17.

I have used both the Dissolve, and the silk thru arm for 70 years.
Message: Posted by: Anton Binder Magic (Oct 19, 2016 02:02AM)
Thanks Dick. ;)
Message: Posted by: BrianMillerMagic (Oct 19, 2016 12:12PM)
You can't go wrong with Pop Haydn's Card Trick for the Blind, currently found in his Secrets of a Street Performer book. It creates a moment that he/she will remember forever.
Message: Posted by: Anton Binder Magic (Oct 20, 2016 04:36AM)
Brianmillermagic Thank you. Good suggestion. Coincidentally I've just finished that very book. I love Pop's work and regularly floor people with my own routine based on his Chicago Surprise. What an interesting career he's had! Yes the trick you mention certainly creates a sweet moment and I will use it. I want to be careful though not to present myself as too much of a "fooled you!" kind of performer. It really is too easy to trick a roomful of people that can't see what you're doing. Ironically that's the problem. ;)
Message: Posted by: KLL (Oct 20, 2016 05:32AM)
You can see some examples if you search for "Are there magic tricks for blind people" on youtube TommyEdisonXP has two posts, one where he's at the Magic Castle and folks are doing effects for him. Also search for Juan Esteban Varela "From the Dark" for his show that takes place in a darkened theater.
Message: Posted by: Anton Binder Magic (Oct 21, 2016 11:30AM)
Thanks KLL
Message: Posted by: Josh Burch (Jan 29, 2021 03:21PM)
I know this is an old thread but I thought I'd offer my suggestions as well.

Here's my current list: