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Mike the Amazing
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I will be doing a show in a couple weeks for a group of mildly handicapped children (some are wheel-chair bound, etc) but several are deaf. I want to do a show that might have some patter, but in which the patter doesn't really play a big part, so that those children are not missing anything. Does anyone have any general ideas for doing a silent show? Smile
Billy Whizz
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Hi Mike, when you work for deaf children, you'll find that most of the time there will be a translator present as well. Phone your booker in advance and ask, that way you can use your normal show.

Whilst on the subject of deaf children— James Fortune, how did you get on with your show last weekend with the deaf children?
Jon Gallagher
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Working with a deaf interpreter can be "tricky" (pardon the pun), but it can be done. My wife is a sign language interpreter.

The problem is that we tend to speak while we're doing something. This means that the deaf person has to watch two things at once: what we're doing and what the interpreter is signing. Performing for a deaf group may throw off your timing a little. It's best if you can talk with the interpreter prior to the show to let him or her know what to expect and ask how they would like you to handle it.

Most hearing people, when speaking through an interpreter, get very self conscious about the words they use, the speed of their speech, etc. Don't. Just speak normally. The interpreter is trained to handle just about anything.

Elizabeth and I would love to hear how this went for you.
www.jongallagher.com

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flourish dude
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I just did a birthday party with some deaf childeren. In fact the birthday child was deaf, and she was the star of the show. I used her just like I use any other child. She had great time! They know what was going on when silk missed the bag etc... Make your moves very easy to understand. Show them what you want them to do. Make lots of funny faces and have a great time.
Nothing of the same will bring any change, take action today!
Just taking a step, is a step in the right direction because when you stop working, your dream dies.
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Mago Mai
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I believe that the best show I can do is:

To show them love.

If you want them all to enjoy the show, you might try not to do a silent act.

I visit a children's hospital once a month to perform magic. Few of them are deaf and some are blind but that doesn't stop them from enjoying the show.

As soon as I get there, I share a very positive attitude by constantly smiling.

I do visual effects (Coloring Book, C&R Rope, Vanishing Silk) and I get some of them to help me on stage. I let them hold the magic wand, say the magic words and I hug them and kiss them when they get the magic done.

I don't let a wheel chair get between kids and my love for them.

Every time I get to the hospital, I am so happy I can't quit smiling. I am proud to be there sharing my magic with them.

Mago Mai
I invite all of you to share some of my magic on videos.Please, CLICK HERE
Chrystal
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Hi Mike,

Mago mentioned making your props very visual, I agree. You needn't worry about doing a silent show as from the description you gave of the children, not all are deaf.

Facial expressions and hand movements can go a long ways ... in fact a lot of these are universal regardless if someone is deaf or doesn't speak English.

One suggestion ... when performing the coloring book, hold out your fingers (actually demonstrating it while speaking). The children will see you doing this and imitate. Then blow on your fingers towards the book. With gestures initiate you want the children to do this as well. Those in wheelchairs may/may not have use of their hands but they can blow. The colors appear! You've allowed all the children to participate.

Gesturing with your head ... nodding or shaking of your head is also universal, I trust the children will catch on quickly. I'm sure some of the children may also lip read, so don't turn away from the audience but stay faced towards them.

Change bags would also work very well in this show— anything visual. Overall, I would do the show as usual, just remember to use lots of facial expressions, face the audience when speaking and above all have fun!

If you see kids raise their arms and wiggle their fingers that's the way that hearing impaired people clap.

Smile Good Luck!
Mike the Amazing
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Thank you all so much for the suggestions. I will keep them all in mind. Will also arrange to go over show early with one of the nurses there who will be assisting me and knows sign language. Smile
Emazdad
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The most important thing is to treat them just like any other child and not patronise them. I do a lot of shows for special needs children and have a lot of fun doing them.

I did a free show once at the Bristol Hospital for sick children. Whenever you do a show for kids in a hospital there will always be the ones that are wheeled into the room in wheelchairs and beds and I always try and use at least one of them as an assistant. In this show there was a girl with cerebral palsey and when I gave her the breakaway wand to hold she broke out in a fit of giggles. What I didn't know was that when she got excited she lost complete control of her right arm and it was thrashing about and smacked her in the nose causing it to bleed.

Naturally I was a bit worried that I'd done something wrong but the nurses reassured me she always does this and took her to one side to sort her out. I ad-libbed for 5 minutes and they brought her back. She was eager to carry on and to be on the safe side the nurses had tied her arm to the bed. All in all it was a great show, the kids enjoyed it, and the nurses said I'd made their day, especially the girl helper who had never been asked to help before.

I never understand the peformers who refuse do do special needs kids, but I know there are some about, at least one down my way.

Another story— I was at a holiday camp last year and as I arrived I noticed a kid in a wheelchair. During the show I looked for him to help with the last effect and found he wasn't in the chair but sitting on the floor. Apparently he doesn't need it all the time.

I got him up on stage asked him the usual silly questions. He answered and went away happy at the end. After the show the Ents manager came up to me and said the boys mum was looking for me. It turned out that 3 months previous he had been in a car accident and both his legs were shattered. He was very traumatised and hadn't spoken for 3 months, the first words his mum had heard him say since the accident were when he spoke to me on the stage. He was so caught up in the fun and excitement he'd forgotten his problems. Apparently his mum was in tears throughout the show. I came away that night on a huge high.
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
www.emazdad.com

"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
Jeffery S
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Emazdad,
Thank you for sharing such touching stories.

Best-
Jeff
Mago Mai
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I wasn't sure why I like this place so much.
Thanks Emazdad,your last story helped me remember why.
Mago Mai
I invite all of you to share some of my magic on videos.Please, CLICK HERE
xicepik
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Wow, what a great story ! We should really have a section or something just for stories, there are lots of good ones here! From funny, to touching ones, sad ones... I learned more here than in any books I've read! Smile
Emazdad
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A story section would be good, but I think it's better to have a story that fits into a topic, especiallly where it can be used to pass on a useful experience, which is what I've tried to do with these stories.

I've even done a birthday party for a blind girl, and she helped me with a trick. I did Practical Magic's Pnuematic Wand. She felt the flat wand, she felt the empty box, she put the lid on, and she took it off and took the large wand out. Her smile said it all. The rest of the show I did as normal with the exception that I let her touch and feel as many props as possible.

The main thing is don't let the disabilities frighten you, they are still just kids, and will appreciate it even more if you treat them just the same as normal kids.
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
www.emazdad.com

"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
Jaxon
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Being deaf myself, I know what's it's like on both ends of this discussion.

Some great advice has already been shared here, but I thought I'd just speak my mind on the subject.

As others have already mentioned, just treating them like any other kids is a good way to think about it. These people, especially the ones who are born deaf, are use to being around people who aren't.

If you happen to use music in your act, keep it in there. If you don't you'll probably mess up your rhythm. You'll feel odd because you're used to hearing that music when you're doing that routine. If you feel out of place that might show. So just do the act like normal. The interpreter can sign that music is playing and their imagination will fill in the blanks. In fact, this can be a good tool for you to use. If you need to find music for your act, perform for a camera and watch it with no sound. What music comes to mind? (See, being deaf has some advantages. lol).

Learn some sign language. I don't mean you have to go out and learn it all, just the alphabet. Learn how to spell your name. Learn how to read theirs. The kids will love it. (Do a google search for american sign language, ASL or finger spelling and you'll find all kinds of sites that teach sign language.)

Oh, and don't freak out if they start waving their hands above their heads and wiggle their fingers. That's how deaf people applaud. lol

Also remember that these kids can't enjoy a movie theater. Finding them with close captioning is a rare thing (and they charge more for out-of-date movies). A live entertainer is a great treat. They still love the Harry Potter and everything "Normal" kids enjoy. So they'll relate to magic just like other kids do. Just imagine what it would be like in their mind if the magician said their name in their language.

You will have to be able to time your talk with your visuals. For some performers this can be a challenge. Especially those who talk while they perform. I mean while the magic moment happens. They can only see one thing at a time. So key in on those visual moments after the interpreter has done their job. They know what they are doing too though. So the biggest consideration about the interpreter is where they'll stand. If it isn't working, they'll move to where it will. So don't worry about that to much. Let them handle that.

Now, I can get away with some things that most can't because I am deaf. For one show I did for a deaf group I told them I brought some special speakers along just for them. I removed the sheet from the speakers and there were hands in them. lol

So, do your act just like you normally do. Just give them as much eye candy as you can and don't talk as much during the magic moments.

If anyone has any questions on deafness, sign language or anything of that nature, please feel free to let me know.

Ron Jaxon
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After regaining my ability to hear after 20 years of deafness. I learned that there is magic all around you. The simplest sounds that amazed me you probably ignore. Look and listen around you right now. You'll find something you didn't notice before.
Jewls
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Ron,
Thank you for that informative post.
Smile
Chrystal
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Hey Jaxon,

Good seeing you!! As always your feedback is appreciated. It was good to hear things from your perspective.

>>waves to Jewls..good seeing you too! Smile
MAGICBYTIM
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I would agree with Jaxon. Learn some sign language. Learn how to ask them there names and be able to tell them yours. Also try and keep them invoved in the show. I did a birthday party once and the show was last. I noticed while I was setting up that there were two kids signing to each other during the party. They were around seven years old and I was empressed they knew so much sign language. When the show was fixn' to start I saw one of the moms get here child to leave. I asked her if they were staying for the show and she said that her child could not hear so she was going to leave. I asked her to stay and let the boy see the show. I used him in the first trick I had to use a helper. He loved the show and I was at his house a month later doing his birthday party.
I do not have much experience performing for handicap children or older people but I would recomend anyone to do it if they have the chance. I have done it around ten times in the last ten years and everytime I do it I come out of it having just as much fun as the audience.
Jaxon
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I just had a thought. I'd bet many of you would like to know how to say "Magic" in sign language. After all, it's common to go up to a kid and ask if they like or want to see magic.

To say magic in sign language, just pretend you're a wizard and casting a spell on something with your fingers. In other words, hold both hands in a closed fist, palm toward the floor. Then spread open your fingers as you move your hands forward. As if sending a "ZAP!" spell on them.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share that since it fits this discussion. It's also a word that's not in most sign language books.

You know what? I just had an idea (yes, it happens sometimes ... lol). I'm going to put together a web page on magical terms in sign language. You know, words and phrases like "magic", "appear", "disappear", "pick a card", "what's your name", etc...

What do you think?

Ron Jaxon
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After regaining my ability to hear after 20 years of deafness. I learned that there is magic all around you. The simplest sounds that amazed me you probably ignore. Look and listen around you right now. You'll find something you didn't notice before.
Chrystal
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Hi Ron,

As always you never cease to amaze me with your offers of help. I think it's an awesome idea and I can't wait to see the site.

C Smile
Billy Whizz
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That's a brilliant idea Ron. Another way to describe the sign for magic is think of 'Tommy Cooper' saying "Just like that". The way he moved his hands is the same as the sign for magic.
Mike the Amazing
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That sounds like a great idea! I would love to see the site!
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