RIKKI POYNTER: Hello. So, with the holidays rolling around, you know, or you may not know, but Deaf people kind of have this thing called dinner table syndrome that we tend to go through if we're hanging around with hearing people that aren't really accommodating, aren't really accessible, won't really sign with us if we prefer to sign, you know. And that can be a really big bummer. I've come across many types of family events, dinners and whatnot, where I was just so depressed sitting at the table because I couldn't follow along with anything that was being said because nobody would type for me, write for me or even attempt to learn even a little bit of sign language, you know? But I am very happy to actually be able to share a very positive story with you all because I think that's something that we need for this holiday season.

So, recently, I met my boyfriend's family for the first time. Well, during my first visit to him, I met his mother and his stepdad but it was very brief and we weren't really sitting together because we all had very different schedules during the week that I was there. But, during the second visit, I fully met his mom and his stepdad and, you know, we hung out for a little bit, and I also met his dad and his stepmom. So, it was definitely a week of really hanging out with the family, and, as usual, I was nervous. I get nervous meeting anybody, really, especially for holiday events, and I was thinking, "Oh, this isn't gonna go well, this is gonna be another, you know, time "when I'm gonna get very frustrated, feel very depressed, "feel very lonely and it's just gonna be dinner table syndrome all over again." But I felt included and it was awesome.

So, his family members would download an app called Big. I think it's Big or it's Big Text or something. It's on the Apple Store on iTunes, it's on the Apple Store, and it's had various different names. You'd call it Hey and sometimes it was called Big but I think it's called Big now. And basically it's... It's kind of like Notes but it's much bigger. Let me see if I can show you real quick. It's not focusing so well but it looks like this. It's just black and it has Big on it and it'll click. And it just pulls up like this and I have the word 'bok choy' on it for some reason. I haven't used this phone out in a while, so I don't know what I was saying there. But, yeah, so it's just really big text and it's great and, you know, you can... It starts out really big but then it gets smaller. But it's not too bad. It's bigger than Notes. It's much more readable, or legible.

And one of the things that really made me feel good, for example, is when I met his dad for the first time and went to his house, and I was welcomed at the door with a message on his iPad and it said something along the lines of, like, "Hi, welcome to our home," you know? And nobody's ever done that for me before, so that was... It gave me little fuzzy feelings inside and I'm someone who doesn't really do well with, like, positive emotions and whatnot, or feelings in general, they make me feel weird, but I was just like... OK, I like this.

And, you know, when I would have dinner with both sides of the family, pulling up phones and writing things down, you know, to actually have a conversation with me, but also when, for example, at his dad's, when we were at his house, there would be, like, a conversation going on between his dad and my boyfriend and his stepmom and they're having their own kind of conversation, but his dad would turn on the mic button because you can also do voice chat with the app and he would turn that on, so he would be talking to my boyfriend and just, like, you know, as you would, and the text would show up on the screen so I would be able to follow along a little bit. Was it for every single sentence and whatnot? No, but it was for most of the conversation. And was it always perfect? No, voice to text isn't really always perfect, but it was enough so that I felt included, I didn't feel alone, and I didn't have some sort of breakdown like in past events that have happened.

So, yeah, to hearing families that are possibly seeing this video, if you have a deaf family member coming or a deaf friend, you know, whatever, if you've got a child who has a deaf significant other or friend coming over, get out the cell phones, download the app. You know, you got iPhone? Download the app on the phone, on your iPad or whatever. It's a great tool. It's really, really fast. Of course, there's also pen and paper but, if you want something fast, this is pretty good.

I don't know if there's an Android equivalent. I do have an Android, I have a Samsung Note 8, and I haven't really been able to find anything like this app on there, which is unfortunate, so that's why I also bring one of my old phones just in case because...yeah. But, if anybody does happen to know something similar, please leave it down in the comments because I have been looking and I can't find any. Until then, I've just been using the regular Notes and it's really small. It's like Notes on the iPhone. It's just really, really small and hard to read, you know, unless you're like, how you doin'? Hello. So...

For this holiday season, I highly encourage you to work together to be accessible. Don't leave out any deaf family members or friends. Holidays are supposed to be a really good time to gather people around and, for some of us, it can be really, really lonely. I hope that little advice was helpful. I hope the story was also really nice to hear. In a time in the world where things are kind of... it's nice to have some positivity to give out. Thank you for watching and I'll see you later. Bye.

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