July 2018 Minute Message

Fellow Federationist:

Get ready for Las Vegas in 2019!

One of the highlights of the national board of directors meeting on July 5 was President Riccobono’s announcement that the 2019 National Convention will take place from July 7-12 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Start saving up so that you can attend the 2019 convention. I am pleased that Maryland had about 228 participants in the 2018 convention. Many thanks to all of the Maryland ambassadors who welcomed the 25 Maryland first timers to the convention. Special thanks to Judy Rasmussen who chaired the Maryland Ambassadors Committee and to Ronza Othman who sponsored a special breakfast gathering for first timers and a special breakfast gathering for students. Many thanks to Amber Woods, chairman of the Maryland table, and to all of the volunteers who helped us sell snacks and instant lottery tickets. I am looking forward to listening to the president’s banquet speech again as well as many other program items from the convention that will be featured in the Braille Monitor. It was a great convention and I am sure that the 2019 convention in Las Vegas will be outstanding as well.


Primary Proves Disabled Voters Do Not Have a Secret Ballot in Maryland.

Many thanks to the eighty participants at our June 14th protest. We let the public know that the Maryland State Board of Elections policy of encouraging only two voters in each precinct to use the ballot marking device (BMD) causes disabled voters to lose the secret ballot. There were many close races in the Maryland primary which caused officials to recount ballots in many jurisdictions.  For instance, ballots were recounted in Baltimore County in the race for county executive because Mr. Olszewski won by nine votes. In the Montgomery County executive race, Mr. Elrich won by only eighty votes. In one of the county council races in Howard County, Ms. Walsh won by two votes. Since the ballots from the BMDs are different in size from the hand copy ballots, the BMD ballots can be easily identified.  Disabled voters must continue to vote despite this problem because our voices need to be heard. We will continue to work on this issue until our right to a secret ballot is restored.


The Baltimore Orioles Recognize NFBMD.

On June 29th, I was honored to receive the Birdland Hero Award for community service from the Baltimore Orioles.  We received great publicity from this award because the ceremony took place at the end of the 5th inning.  Information about NFB was projected on the jumbotron for the full stadium audience, as well as for television and radio viewers and listeners.  Thousands of people learned about the NFB in a matter of a few minutes.

Gearing up for BELL.

The first NFB BELL Academy in Maryland occurs in Salisbury at the BISM training center on July 16th. The BELL Academies in Baltimore and Glenn Dale will begin on July 30th. Preparations are well underway to make sure that all of the students learn that they are part of the Federation family and are no longer alone. Blind role models will help students build confidence and will demonstrate to the students that they can live the lives they want. Blindness is not what holds you back.


Crabbing for Scholars.

Did you purchase your tickets for the August 4th Crab Feast yet? The event takes place from 6-11pm at Columbus Gardens in Baltimore.  The Proceeds from this event will benefit the John T McCraw Scholarship Program, the Youth Training Stipends and the NFBMD BELL Academies. Bring your appetite! Steamed Crabs, Pit Beef, & Ham – All You Can Eat! Plus, a Buffet of Entrees Including Shrimp Creole and Mild and Spicy Sausage, Sides, Salad, Cakes…Yuengling, Bud, and Coors Light on Tap, Carbonated Beverages and Coffee. Tickets are $55 on or before July 28th or $60 at the door. For more information contact Steve Brand (443) 570-5285.


Maryland Day at the Jernigan Institute.

We are planning to visit our headquarters on Saturday, September 8th from 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Highlights will include a visit to the Independence Market and the International Braille and Technology Center. We will learn about plans to renovate the sleeping area. There will also be leadership workshops and time to meet other Federationists from around the state. Please let your chapter president know if you wish to attend.


Blindness Researchers Need Your Help.

Two important research studies are taking place in Maryland and are being conducted by Maryland scholars. While these studies are not under the auspices of the Federation, they do foster our goal of full participation in all aspects of community life. Please participates in these studies if you meet their criteria. Dr. Sheryl Fogle Hatch, a member of the Board of Directors of the Greater Baltimore Chapter, is looking for participants for a research survey to identify experiences of blind and low vision people at museums. For further information go to https://boisestate.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_23HYlClohjBVQah.

Can you help researchers from John Hopkin’s? “One area that is very important for us is how we can measure very limited vision. To do this, we are recruiting volunteers who have ultra-low vision (ULV). ULV means that the person is not totally blind, but does not have enough vision to see letters on the eye chart, recognize faces or read large print.  Participants in our study will be asked to try out new Virtual Reality glasses.  In those glasses we show very simple scenes and we measure how well our participants can see those.  This will help us measure different levels of vision within the Ultra-Low Vision Range”.  Please contact Kemi Adeyemo at 443-287-0072 or oadeyem2@jhmi.edu


Important Dates.

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.

August 10-12 – Southeast Regional Seminar for Blind Students, 200 East Wells Street, Baltimore, MD.

August 25 – Board of Directors Meeting Conference Call, 10 AM to Noon. All are invited to attend. Call 641-715-3272. Access Code is 720125.

September 8 – Maryland Day at the Jernigan Institute.

October 1-31 – Meet the Blind Month.

October 5 – Maryland Candidates for Governor Forum on Disabilities, 1:30-3:30pm, Hyatt Regency Baltimore Inner Harbor Hotel, 300 Light Street, Baltimore, MD.

October 15 – National White Cane Awareness Day.

November 9-11 – Annual State Convention, Carousel Hotel, Ocean City, MD.


Sharon Maneki, President

National Federation of the Blind of Maryland



The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back.