February is Valentine’s season, which is the season of love and the season to help your family. Our federation family in Maryland needs your help and participation very much. We need to support our colleague and friend Yasmin Reyazuddin who is involved in a suit against Montgomery County for its failure to provide her with accessible technology to perform her job. Yasmin has been fighting with them for nine years. On Monday, February 22, we need people to attend the closing arguments of the case at the Federal Court House, 6500 Cherry Wood Lane in Greenbelt, Maryland. The case will be going to the jury when the lawyers finish their arguments. We will let you know the result when we have it.
All hands are needed in Annapolis on March 3 and March 8 for the hearings on our blind parent’s custody bills. I will be sending out a call for letters on these bills in a separate message to the list serves. We are the primary movers of these bills, so it is up to us to supply a crowd of supporters.
LBPH needs your help.
We need to make sure that the LBPH budget is not cut by the Maryland General Assembly. In a separate message, I will tell you who to call next Tuesday or Wednesday, February 23 and 24. First we will call Senators. On March 1 and 2, we will call Delegates. These calls are crucial. We must make sure that our library can function because currently it is not able to fulfill its mission.
Equal Employment Act update.
If you have not written your letters of support for the Equal Employment Act SB417 and HB420, please do so quickly. We had two very good hearings. We are trying to get everyone to agree on amendments and to make sure that the bill remains strong despite these amendments. We received excellent press coverage on the Act. You will read a sample in the Braille Spectator, which will be coming out soon. Maryland Public Television also did a nice job of covering these hearings. I will send you the link when it is up.
Basket bingo tickets.
Please purchase your basket bingo tickets immediately. Tickets are sold on a first come, first serve basis. We have great prizes, food, raffles, and you will not want to miss this event on March 11. As you may remember, basket bingo takes place at the lodge, 2832 Nine Mile Circle, Catonsville, Maryland. Doors open at six; games begin at seven. Buy your tickets through Paypal or call Sharon Maneki at 410-715-9596 to arrange to purchase tickets.
Victory in the Maryland election case.
Many thanks to Janice Toothman and our national team for their excellent work. We recently learned that the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Judicial Circuit upheld the ruling in National Federation of the Blind et al. vs. Linda H. Lamone et al. requiring the state of Maryland to make an accessible online ballot-marking tool available to blind voters who wish to vote by absentee ballot.
Many thanks to all of our chapters for arranging for the local boards of elections to demonstrate the electronic voting machine that we are supposed to use in our upcoming primary election on April 27. Problems have developed with this machine, so only disabled voters will use it which means we will be forced to have a segregated ballot and could lose our secret vote. Stay tuned for more information on this problem as we move closer to the time to vote.
Please review the calendar below for upcoming events. Don’t forget to make calls on behalf of the LBPH budget and to do letters on the custody bills and the Equal Employment bill. I look forward to seeing many of you at the Reyazuddin trial and at the hearings on March 3 and March 8. Check with your chapter presidents about transportation to Annapolis.
Dates to Keep in Mind
March 3. Hearing for HB976, House Judiciary Committee, Lowe House Office Building 1st Floor, 1 pm.
March 3. Diabetic Conference Call, 7 pm. Call 641-715-3272. The access code is 720125.
March 8. Hearing for SB765, Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, Miller Building 2E, 1 pm.
March 11. Basket Bingo takes place at The Lodge, 2832 Nine Mile Circle, Catonsville. Doors open at 6 pm. Games begin at 7 pm. See www.nfbmd.org for further information and to purchase tickets.
March 14. Senior Issues Conference Call, 10 am. Call 712-432-1500. The access code is 759633#. They will be discussing how to ask for assistance.
March 31. Deadline for National Scholarship applications. Got to https://nfb.org/scholarships for more information.
April 2. NFBMD Board of Directors Meeting, time and place TBD.
April 7. Diabetic Conference Call, 7 pm. Call 641-715-3272. The access code is 720125.
April 9. Workshop at LBPH. How to write braille using UEB. Light lunch available at 11:30. Workshop from 12-1:30. Please RSVP to Robyn Hughes at: email@example.com by April 5, 2016.
April 11. Senior Issues Conference Call, 10 am. Call 712-432-1500. The access code is 759633#.
April 15. Deadline for application for NFBMD scholarships.
April 17. Gospel Concert to Benefit NFBMD Youth Programs at Pikesville Seventh Day Adventist Church.
June 4. NFBMD Board of Directors Meeting, time and place TBD.
June 30-July 5. National Convention, Orlando, Florida.
July 18-29 excluding weekends. Salisbury NFB BELL Program.
July 25-Aug 5 excluding weekends. NFB BELL Programs in Baltimore and Glenn Dale.
August 5. Annual Crab Feast, Columbus Gardens, Baltimore, Maryland.
August 27. NFBMD Board of Directors Meeting, time and place TBD.
October 28-30. NFBMD 50th State Convention, Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards Hotel, Baltimore, Maryland.
Sharon Maneki, President
National Federation of the Blind of Maryland