Deaf professional magician as a roll model for Deaf kids

A professional magician, named Magic Toshima, freely manipulates red and blue strings in front of ten fifth graders at the Otsuka Metropolitan School for the Deaf in Tokyo. The children, amazed, talk to the next peer in sign language at once when all the strings which were apart away are connected in the circle.

Toshima's real name is Norihiro Toshima who is born deaf. When he was a second grader, he saw a magic show for the first time and loved it instantly.

He went to Tokyo to learn magic after he graduated from the Kagoshima School for the Deaf in a southern part of Japan. He attended the magician class for three years while doing the newspaper delivery, etc. Toshima was the only Deaf student in the class.

The interpreter did not understand the technical terms used in the magic world, so Toshima studied the manual of magic tools and learned the techniques from the performances of his teacher. He became a professional magician in 2000, and currently performs for the show, instructs Deaf students, etc.

Because he uses sign language during the show, heavy tools are put on the table. There is no sense of incompatibility though this is a point which is different from the hearing magician.

Deaf persons, who are not good at spoken conversations and karaoke, tend to become alienated in a gathering place. However, if the magic show were performed, all the people including the Deaf persons will enjoy it together. Toshima says, "Magic is a useful method to help the Deaf and hearing persons share the feelings and communication."

He understands why Deaf children feel irritated and uneasy because he himself has the same disability. "I want the Deaf kids to have something more what he likes, and to foster self-confidence. I hope they will never give their dream up and make use of it for work." With such a desire, Toshima travels around in the country to perform a magic show.

Akira Yokkaichi, a professor of the University of Tsukuba and the principal of the Special Support School for the Deaf under the arm of the University, said "It is good that Deaf children see the Deaf adults active in professions despite of the disability, as their role model. It will give them a chance to learn more to prepare for the future."

Source: Mainichi Shimbun, Dec. 4, 2008
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