May 2018 Minute Message

Fellow Federationists:

Congratulations to Us!

On May 15, 2018, Governor Hogan signed HB1088/SB296 into law. This law 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 offense cannot exceed $5,000, and the penalty for subsequent offenses may not exceed $10,000. Having a civil penalty is an important precedent in the enforcement of Nonvisual Access laws.

Building Relationships

Baltimore County Executive, Kevin Kamenetz, was a friend of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland. We join many others in expressing our deepest sympathy to his family and friends. The sudden death of Mr. Kamenetz is a reminder of the importance of building relationships. Mr. Kamenetz came to the state convention in 2017 to bring greetings from Baltimore County because of his relationship with us. For years Barry Hond worked with offices of many Baltimore County executives to ensure that the county issued a proclamation for White Cane Awareness Day. Building these relationships is an important part of our work. This is a good time to build personal relationships with candidates who are running for office. It is important for them to realize that they have blind constituents. Please do what you can to foster these relationships.

Make Your Voices Heard

Although persons with disabilities no longer have a secret ballot in Maryland, it is still important to make our views known. Please be sure to vote in the primary on June 26th. If you wish you can participate in early voting. Early voting will be held from June 14 through June 21. Contact your local Board of Elections to see where the early voting centers are in your area. NFB Newsline will have Maryland ballot information soon. Be sure to check the local channel of NFB Newsline to get the names of the eleven gubernatorial candidates, congressional candidates, general assembly candidates, and candidates in various local races.

A Great Resource

The NFB of Maryland website is a great resource! It contains everything from blindness resources to information about our rights, and the Maryland laws that relate to blindness. There is special information for parents, students, seniors, people with diabetes and people who are just starting to lose their vision. There is information about every local chapter and division of NFBMD as well as their constitutions. As you know from the Presidential release the National Federation of the Blind recently passed a code of conduct for the organization. Every affiliate and every president of the chapters and divisions of the NFB of Maryland has signed this code of conduct which the NFB of Maryland Board of Directors adopted on March 24, 2018. You may read this document online. Although this was signed only by leaders, it is something that everyone should follow.

Check the website frequently to find out about current advocacy issues, to read the latest newsletter and to get information about upcoming events. Local chapters should remember to email Ellen Ringlein the details of their events for posting. If you have ideas about other information that you would like to see on the website email Sharon Maneki.

Board of Directors Meeting

Everyone is invited to attend the NFBMD Board of Directors Meeting on Saturday, June 2, at 9:30 am. The Greater Carroll County Chapter is hosting this meeting. We will meet at the Bistro which is part of the Carroll Lutheran Village. The address is 300 St. Luke’s Circle, Westminster, MD. Contact Brian Keseling or Sharon Maneki for specific directions to the Bistro. Help us plan for future activities and the upcoming state convention.

Promote Braille Literacy

The NFB 6 Dot Dash annual 6k run/walk for Braille literacy will be held on June 3rd at NFB headquarters, 200 East Wells Street, Baltimore. The race begins at 8 am. Team Sharon is looking for more participants. If you do not want to run or walk, you can always sponsor someone else. You may register online.

Pre-Registration Ending Soon

You will not want to miss the 2018 National Convention in Orlando, FL from July 3-8. Save money and pre-register today! Pre-registration closes on May 31 at midnight. You may pre-register and purchase a banquet ticket online.

Divisions Activities

On Saturday, June 9, 8am – 3pm, The Maryland Parents of Blind Children will conduct a free seminar entitled “Family to Family Connections.” Activities for the whole family! Everything from networking to technology information, to learning about the versatility of Braille, and more! The location is the Jernigan Institute, 200 East Wells Street, Baltimore, MD. For further information email Melissa Riccobono.

On Saturday, June 23, the Maryland Association of Blind Merchants will host a Networking Mixer. Come join us for an afternoon of fun and effective networking from 3:00 to 6:00 pm at Flavor Restaurant, 15 East Centre Street, Baltimore, MD 21202. Vanna Belton, a young, progressive, visually impaired woman, is the owner of Flavor.

Buy your Vegas Getaway Raffle Tickets at the Networking Mixer. If you can’t wait, get your tickets online.

The Vegas vacation getaway for two includes luxury accommodations, roundtrip airfare and $500 cash. The drawing is to be held July 8, 2018, at the NFB National Convention. You need not be present to win. Tickets are $10. The winner has 12 months to take this trip.

Calling All Students! Several student divisions from the southeastern section of the country, including Maryland, are joining together for a weekend of fun and information on August 10-12. This conference will take place at the Jernigan Institute, 200 East Wells St., Baltimore, MD. For further information, contact the President of MDABS, Ellana Crew, by email.

Important Dates for 2018

  • June 2 — Board of Directors Meeting, 9:30am. Location: 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.
  • July 30-August 10 — NFB Bell Academies in Baltimore and Glenn Dale, MD.
  • August 4 — Annual Crab Feast, Columbus Gardens, Baltimore, MD.
  • August 10-12 — Southeast regional seminar for blind students, 200 East Wells Street, Baltimore, MD.
  • October 15 — National White Cane Awareness Day.
  • November 9-11 — Annual State Convention, Carousel Hotel, Ocean City, MD.