August 2018 Minute Message

Fellow Federationists:


Urgent Action Needed.


Even though it is August and you may be in vacation mode, please take the time to do the following two actions:

Maryland does not have any Congressmen as cosponsors on the Access Technology Affordability Act (H.R. 1734).

Fortunately, both of our Senators are on this legislation.  Please email or call your Congressman and ask them to cosponsor this important bill.  Our advocacy and policy team want us to focus on this legislation now because the Joint Committee on Taxation is working on the bill to determine its cost.  If we can increase our cosponsor list, the bill has a better chance of moving forward. 

When you call or email, you might say something like the following:


"Hello, my name is [your name] and I am a constituent of [your representative]. I live in [city, state]. I am calling to urge [your representative] to cosponsor H.R. 1734, the Access Technology Affordability Act. This bill would increase the availability of access technology thereby increasing educational and employment opportunities for all blind Americans. The bill does this by creating a tax credit for the purchase of access technology.  I urge [your representative] to cosponsor the bill. Thanks."


You can contact your member of Congress by calling the Capitol switchboard and asking for the office in question. The number is 202-224-3121. If you email your representative, please copy Sharon Maneki at  and John Pare at


It is critical that we move on this quickly, so please strive to make your calls and send your emails as soon as possible.


The second action that I am asking you to immediately take is to sign up to be a mentor with the NFB Career Mentoring Program.

Maryland is lucky enough to be one of the states that will host this program.  Blind and low-vision youth need exposure to positive blind role models who demonstrate a genuine belief in them and in their natural abilities. Here is a wonderful opportunity for you to give back to the next generation and to help them achieve their full potential.  If you do not feel you have the time, remember that in many instances, a phone call, an email, or a text may be a life changing interaction.  Sign up by going to:


The State Convention is Coming.


You will not want to miss the state convention at the Carousel Hotel in Ocean City which takes place on November 9-11, 2018.  It is time to make your reservation by calling the Carousel at 410-524-1000.  Convention Room Rates:  Standard Room - $85 per night, Ocean Front Room - $125 per night, 2 Bedroom condo - $185 per night. Tax on sleeping rooms is 10.5%.  These room rates start on Thursday, November 8, 2018.  The deadline for room reservations is October 9, 2018.  Be looking in your mailbox and on the website for the preregistration forms.  They will be available soon. 


Attend the Board of Directors Meeting.

Everyone is invited to attend the Board of Directors meeting on Saturday, August 25 to help us plan the convention.  This is a phone conference Board meeting which begins at 10 am and will end at noon.  The call-in number is 641-715-3272.  The access code is 720125.



Maryland Parents of Blind Children Back to School Picnic.


Parents of blind children should bring the whole family to the Back to School Picnic, which begins at 2 pm on Sunday, August 26.  Enjoy food, fun and fellowship.  Network and get your questions answered about opportunities for blind children during the next school year.  The picnic is at Hammond Park

10700 Glen Hannah Dr.

Laurel, MD 20723.  For more information, contact Melissa Riccobono,, or Teresa Graham,


Maryland Day at the Jernigan Institute.


Are you coming to Maryland Day on September 8 from 10 am to 4:30 pm?  You must let your chapter president know if you are coming by September 1.  This is a chance to visit the Technology Center, the Independence Market  and get acquainted with our National Center.  You will not want to miss our interesting, thought provoking workshops where we will share tools and tips on how we can further the work of the Federation. 



Do You Need a Computer with Speech or Magnification?


Here is a good opportunity to get a low-cost computer with screen access.  If you have questions, please contact Computers for the Blind (CFTB) at 214-340-6328.


“Computers for the Blind (CFTB) has access to additional grant funds to offer computers for $60 off regular price. Here are the details:

•          Eligible persons include persons on SSI or SSDI due to blindness. Copy

of Social Security  reward letter required.

•          Grant also includes parents of legally blind children or youth.

Required documentation is an e-mail from the TVI or caseworker stating that the child needs a computer, would benefit from it, and purchasing a new computer with the expensive software would create a hardship on the family. No eye reports or income verification needed.

•          These are desktop computers w/larger screens, and a home edition license

of JAWS, Fusion, or ZoomText of the client’s choice. Price includes JAWS training bundle.

•          Cost for grant covered desktops is $70.  

•          The only persons eligible for a grant covered laptop is a college student that is currently taking classes on campus. Proof required.

Cost for laptop under the grant is $125.

•          See article in AccessWorld for more details:


NFB Krafters Division.


Terry Powers, a longtime member of the Sligo Creek chapter, wanted you to know the following.

“The National Federation of the Blind Krafters Division was established in July 2008.  This organization began its inception from Joyce Kane’s desire to share the love of crafting among individuals who are blind and visually impaired.  The K in Krafters is a tribute to our founder, Joyce Kane.  We meet via a conference call each Monday night at 7:30 PM Eastern.  The general conference chat line is 605-475-4000, participant access code 966659.  Our Monday night chats are open to members and non-members alike.  We discuss crafting and blindness related topics.  We offer crafting classes via conference call and email.  Our classes are taught by and for visually impaired individuals, meaning detailed verbal description is given.  If an individual is interested in our classes, but not sure if they would like to join our division, we offer one trial class of their choice for free.  Our yearly membership dues are $20.  By joining our division, you may take as many classes as you like during the membership year.  We have offered classes in the following categories: needle knitting, loom knitting, crochet, beading/ jewelry making, safety pin beading, quilting, sewing, basket making, kumihimo, clay, plastic canvas, felting, latch hooking, macramé, origami, soap making, and other miscellaneous crafts.  Presently, classes are managed via our website  There you can read about all the happenings and sign up for classes.  We also have an email listserv where we discuss crafting topics and develop new friendships.  To sign up for the listserv go to

Should you have further questions, please contact Tammy Freitag, President email:  or phone: 402-904-5105.”


Important Dates.


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.

August 26 – MDPOBC Back to School Picnic, 2 pm…, Hammond Park, Laurel, MD.

September 8 – Maryland Day at the Jernigan Institute,  10 am to 4:30 pm.

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.

October 27 – Celebration of 50th Anniversary of Maryland LBPH, 415 Park Ave., Baltimore, MD.

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.