March 2017 Minute Message

Fellow Federationists:

March Madness NFBMD Style

Just like March Madness in basketball, March Madness for NFBMD means it is a time with lots of activities, a time of surprises and time to take action quickly. On March 1 we met the challenge in Annapolis of having to attend three hearings at the same time. These hearings were on HB1140: the Procurement bill, SB 587: Library Governance and Structure, and HB 1446: a bill to limit BISM’s priority in obtaining state janitorial contracts. We did not know that this bill was going to be introduced, but when we learned of it we stood up for the need to protect the livelihood of blind workers. We also learned of HB 1493: the Assertion of Bad Faith bill. We convinced the sponsor to withdraw this bill because this bill would punish persons with disabilities who falsely claimed that a website was not accessible. This bill was unfair and unnecessary because it offered protection to businesses who should be complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Instead, this bill would have limited the civil rights of persons with disabilities.

During the second week of March we had both Basket Bingo and Annapolis activities. Our March 10 Basket Bingo event was a great success. Many thanks to all who participated. Special thanks to the Central Maryland Chapter, who always runs this important event. Basket Bingo not only raises much needed money from the public, but also educates the public about the capabilities of blind persons in a fun environment.

On March 7 we attended the House hearing on HB 1094 concerning changing the governance and structure of the libraries in Maryland. This bill will move library functions out of the Maryland State Department of Education and into a new Maryland State Library agency. This change will benefit the Library for the Blind because it would be able to manage its own resources and would lessen the bureaucracy. I hope everyone made their calls and sent their emails about the library bills. Be looking at the listservs for further details or calls to action.

March is a Time for Planning

The Deaf-Blind and Hearing Loss Issues Committee is planning an interesting seminar on Independent Travel with Blindness and Hearing Loss. This seminar will look at high-tech and low-tech approaches to maintain independent travel. Date: April 22; time: 12:30 – 3:30 pm; place: Wallace Presbyterian Church, Building B- which is also called House of the Crossroads, 3725 Metzerott Rd, College Park, MD 20740. For more information, contact Janice Toothman,

The Maryland Association of Blind Students is helping to plan a regional weekend seminar for students from several northeastern states, including Maryland. Date: May 19-21; place: The Jernigan Institute, 200 East Wells Street, Baltimore, MD 21230. For further information, contact Ellana Crew at

Don’t miss An Afternoon of Musical Inspiration, a gospel concert with proceeds benefitting NFBMD summer youth programs. Date: April 30; time: 4 pm; place: Pikesville Internationals SDA Church, 4619 Old Court Road, Pikesville, MD 21208. For further information contact Latonya Phipps,

Calling all Parents and Students

It is time to fill out scholarship applications and forms for summer programs. Remember, the National scholarship deadline is March 31. Go to this link for more details: The NFBMD John T. McCraw applications are due April 15. Go to this link for more details: Youth Empowerment Stipends are available to help middle and high school students attend summer training programs, such as those run by Blind Industries and Services of Maryland and by our three NFB centers in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Colorado. Applications are due at least 30 days before the funds are needed. Go to

It is not too early to enroll students in one of the Maryland BELL academy programs. The Salisbury Academy will be held July 17-28, 2017, and the Baltimore and Glendale Academies will be held July 31-August 11, 2017. No weekends. To apply go to

Save These Important Dates

  • March 31, 2017. Deadline for submitting National Scholarship Application.
  • April 1, 2017. Board of Directors Meeting and Leadership Seminar.
  • April 6, 2017. Diabetes Conference Call, 7 pm. Call 641-715-3272. The access code is 720125#.
  • April 15, 2017. Deadline for submitting State Scholarship Applications.
  • April 22, 2017. Independent Travel Seminar sponsored by Deaf-Blind and Hearing Loss Issues Committee, 12:30 – 3:30 pm. Wallace Presbyterian Church, Building B, 3725 Metzerott Rd., College Park, MD 20740.
  • April 30, 2017. Gospel Concert, 4 pm. Pikesville International SDA Church, 4619 Old Court Rd., Pikesville, MD 21208.
  • May 7, 2017. Deadline for Youth SLAM student applications.
  • May 19-21, 2017. Regional Student Seminar. The Jernigan Institute, 200 East Wells St., Baltimore, MD 21230.
  • June 3, 2017. Board of Directors Meeting, time and place to be announced.
  • June 4, 2017. 6 Dot Dash, 8 am. 200 East Wells St., Baltimore, MD 21230.
  • July 10-15, 2017. National Convention, Orlando, FL.
  • July 17-28, 2017. NFB BELL Academy in Salisbury, MD.
  • July 23-29, 2017. NFB Youth SLAM Towson University, MD.
  • July 31-August 11, 2017. NFB BELL Academies in Baltimore and Glendale, MD.
  • August 19, 2017. Annual Crab Feast, Columbus Gardens, Baltimore, MD.
  • September 9, 2017. Board of Directors Meeting, time and place to be announced.
  • October 19-20, 2017. Braille Literacy in the 21st Century Conference, jointly sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind and the Maryland School for the Blind. 200 East Wells Street, Baltimore, Maryland.
  • November 10-12, 2017. Annual State Convention, Sheraton Baltimore North Hotel in Towson, Maryland.