April 2018 Minute Message

Fellow Federationists:

A Big Thank You

We had two very successful fundraisers for our NFB BELL Academy programs, youth programs and the John T. McCraw Scholarships. The concert by Melissa Riccobono was excellent. We learned about some of Melissa’s favorite songs and she can definitely make a career of singing if she chooses. The Bid for Opportunity dinner and auction was a successful evening. We enjoyed good food, good friends and bidding on lots of must-have items. This event was sponsored by the Sligo Creek and National Harbor chapters.

Progress on Information Access

Three significant events occurred this month that will bring us closer to achieving our goal of reducing the barriers to information access faced by blind people.

The Maryland General Assembly approved Governor Hogan’s appropriation of $250,000 for the Center of Excellence in Nonvisual Access (CENA) to Education, Public Information, and Commerce. Future messages will describe the projects that the CENA will be undertaking in 2019.

We look forward to better enforcement of the state of Maryland’s Nonvisual Access requirements because of the passage of HB 1088. This bill requires Maryland to adopt the new federal 508 accessibility standards by January 1 of 2020. The bill establishes a civil penalty against vendors who sell inaccessible information technology or information technology services to the state if they refuse to fix accessibility problems that were identified. The penalty for the first offence cannot exceed $5,000, and the penalty for subsequent offences may not exceed $10,000. Having a civil penalty is an important precedent in the enforcement of Nonvisual Access laws.

On April 18, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the Marrakesh Treaty. This is an important step in gaining ratification of this treaty by two-thirds of the U.S. Senate. This treaty will provide greater access to the printed word for blind people throughout the world by allowing countries to exchange accessible formats of books. Many thanks to everyone who worked diligently to achieve these three objectives, which will reduce information barriers. We are hoping that Governor Hogan will sign HB 1088 and that U.S. Senate will ratify the Marrakesh Treaty soon.

Do Good with Burritos

Join us at Chipotle for a fundraiser to support Maryland Association of Blind Students. Just come in to the 300 West Pratt Street location in Baltimore on Sunday, May 6th from 4:00pm to 8:00pm. Tell the cashier that you’re supporting the cause to make sure that 50% of the proceeds will be donated to Maryland Association of Blind Students.

Two Important Deadlines

Be sure to turn your money and raffle stubs in so that you may begin to win $50 Sunday through Friday or $100 on Saturday, starting on May 1st. If you did not get a $5 raffle ticket yet, contact your chapter president or Melissa Riccobono.

Are you ready for the National Convention, July 3 – 8 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel? Did you make your hotel reservation yet? Remember to preregister and purchase a banquet ticket online. Preregistration closes on May 31st.

Important Dates for 2018

  • May 6 – Chipotle Fundraiser, 4pm – 8pm. Maryland Association of Blind Students. 300 West Pratt St., Baltimore, MD.
  • June 2 – Board of Directors Meeting, 9:30am. The location is Carroll Lutheran Village, 300 St. Luke’s Circle, Westminster, MD.
  • June 3 – 6-K Dot Dash for Braille Literacy, 200 East Wells Street, Baltimore, MD.
  • June 9 — The Maryland Parents of Blind Children seminar “Family to Family Connections.” Jernigan Institute, 200 East Wells Street, Baltimore, MD.
  • June 23 — MABM Networking Mixer, 3pm-6pm. FLAVOR Restaurant, 15 East Centre Street, Baltimore, MD 21202.
  • July 3-8 — NFB National Convention, Orlando, FL.
  • July 16-27 — NFB Bell Academy in Salisbury, MD.
  • July 29 — August 4 – NFB EQ for blind high-school students. Go to http://www.blindscience.org/nfbeq.
  • July 30-August 10 — NFB Bell Academies in Baltimore and Glenn Dale, MD.
  • August 4 — Annual Crab Feast, Columbus Gardens, Baltimore, MD.
  • November 9-11 — Annual State Convention, Carousel Hotel, Ocean City, MD.