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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » Deaf Children (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Billy Whizz
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Special user
Plymouth, UK
576 Posts

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Does anyone know Sign Langauge? And if so, do you do shows for deaf children? I've done a show recently for a deaf school using sign language for the first time, and I've got two more coming up soon. I just wondered if you could give any tips or ideas. Thanks in antitipation.

All the best, Billy
Daniel J. Ferrara Jr.
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Long Island, New York
182 Posts

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I've never done a show for deaf people, but just last week, I did a show for a group of seniors who didn't all speek english. I did most of my 30 minute show to music to avoid the language problem. I realize that deaf children can't hear the music, but doing a show like this forces you to use mime to get the story across.
mslj
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Bradford, England
95 Posts

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Hi Billy

One of my more rewarding Christmas Shows was for a local Centre for the Deaf. A group of about 60 kids with profound hearing problems. I don't know any signing (other than basic greetings) but was lucky enough to have one of the staff members to sign the whole show for me. I asked her to stand close to me so the kids could read the signing and see the show at the same time. It was a great sucess with the young people really becoming involved in the 'magic'.

If you can I'd encourage you to check out if the shows that you have coming up can provide a 'signer' for you.

Simon
Billy Whizz
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Plymouth, UK
576 Posts

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Hi Simon, I had a person standing next to me at my last show to sign for the children. I also signed as well, but I've only been learning sign language at college for about six months. I had the show video'ed so could learn from it. And as you said, it relly is rewarding because deaf children don't often see or understand a magician.

I was wondering what expierences any other magicians may have had with working with these children, and if they used sign language themselves. What sort of magic they used, because it can be quite difficult to sign when we have to use our hands for the magic etc.

All the best, Billy.
Cheshire Cat
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Wilmslow, UK
941 Posts

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Have never performed for completely deaf children Billy, but many, many times for kids with severe hearing impairments. I always have a word with the person in charge to explain that I do use music and amplification, as I find many children have hearing aids on full which need adjustment. I then try and keep the sound down to a workable minimum. It's a bit like not using any form of flashing or pulsating lights for children who have a history of epilepsy, just common sense I suppose. Smile
Margarette
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Memphis area
956 Posts

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I lack 12 semester hours for my degree in Sign Language Interpreting. I know...I really should go back and finish, but that is low on the priority list. As for performing magic for deaf children, yes, I have done several shows for deaf/hard of hearing children. Yes, it does help to have an interpreter there, but it is nice if you know sign language so you can communicate a little bit with them. One thing that helped me was my exaggerated use of facial expressions and hand movements. Overdramatize a confused look, a look of disbelief, or astonishment, or...well, you get the idea. As for the hand movements, don't worry about the children 'following' your hand movements. One thing we learned day one of my interpreting studies is that you don't look at the hands...you look in the general direction of the mouth. If you try and follow the hands, you will be surprised at how tired you become!
Just remember to have fun...because if you have fun, that will translate over to the children.

Margarette
The only stupid question is the one not asked.
Billy Whizz
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Plymouth, UK
576 Posts

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Thanks for your advice Margarette.

Regards, Billy
Dennis Michael
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Inner circle
Southern, NJ
6018 Posts

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Information related to Magic and the Hearing Impaired can be obtained from the following two organizations:


Please contact them and they can help you in this area.
Dennis Michael
Billy Whizz
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Special user
Plymouth, UK
576 Posts

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WOW great info, thanks Den,

Billy
Jim Reynolds
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431 Posts

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One thing you could do if you know some Sign Language, is to use your "ignorance" of SL as a running gag (magician in trouble) throughout your show.

For example, you could hold up a blue silk and refer to it (sign) as RED with an unsure expression on your face. Kids will love to correct you.

Or you can get them to show you how to sign something simple and you keep messing it up throughout the show until the very end.

I agree with Margarette about the exaggerated facial expression, but I would caution against exaggerating your speech/mouth movement when talking to the kids for it can be a little insulting. Just speak clearly in your normal voice when they are looking at you.

Keep in mind that American Sign Language (ASL) is different than English Sign. So make sure you get signing advice from your side of the pond Smile

good luck

JR
Billy Whizz
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Plymouth, UK
576 Posts

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Thanks Jim, All the best, Billy
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