November 2018 Minute Message

Fellow Federationists:

A Big Thank You!

Many thanks to everyone who attended the 52nd convention of the NFBMD. A special thanks to each of you who helped make this convention a great success. We are able to be successful because each of you made a contribution from volunteering to be a martial, running a workshop, or welcoming a new member into our federation family.  We have already started on the actions generated by the Convention.  The 2018 NFBMD Convention resolutions have been posted on our website,, under “Current Advocacy Issues.” Soon there will be a link on the homepage to the Presidential Report, and our panel on “Living the Lives They Want: How Blind and Sighted Spouses Make It Work” will be under “Success Stories.”


As you know, Sharon Maneki has retired from the position of President of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland.  We are incredibly grateful to her for the years of dedication and leadership she has given to the NFB of Maryland and her commitment to the blind of Maryland.  Though Sharon has stepped down from the presidency, she will remain very active in the affiliate.  In fact, she has consented to serve in the role of Director of Legislation and Advocacy for the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland. 


Participants Needed for the National Braille Readers are Leaders Contest

Get ready to enter your children in our National Braille Readers are Leaders contest (BRAL)! This is a good opportunity to encourage braille reading. This contest is different than the Braille Challenge, because you do all of it at home. However, it is good preparation for the Braille challenge that will occur on February 9, 2019. In addition to the National prizes for the BRAL Contest, we will have some prizes and recognition for all Maryland participants. See below information and sign up quickly!!

•             For each student who enters, a certifying official (parent, teacher, etc.) must fill out and submit a registration form. Registration forms can be submitted as late as January 19, 2019.

•             Kids enter in one of five grade categories: K-1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-8, & 9-12.

•             Participants record Braille pages read in the weeks between December 1, 2018 and January 19, 2019 on a reading log.

•             The certifying official must submit the completed reading log form by February 2, 2019.

•             Prizes in each grade category are: first, $25; second, $15; third, $10.

•             Every contestant, whether a winner or not, will receive a “goodie bag” containing Braille-related items at the end of the contest.

In addition to awards in the five grade categories, the Kelly Doty Award is given to a student who has met unusual challenges in order to learn and read Braille. Such challenges include, but are not limited to, having other disabilities in addition to blindness or being an English language learner.

For further information, go to:


NFB RideShare Testing Program

If you use a service animal or are accompanying someone who does, please fill out a short form about your experience, each time you use Uber or Lyft. Please go to to complete the survey. Please give us information about both good and bad experiences. Spread the word, we need information from every blind person whether they are a member of NFB or not. We have a certain number of surveys we are required to complete for the State of Maryland, and we have not yet met that requirement.  Ashley Alvey is the Maryland coordinator for this program. If you have questions email her at


Access to Health Care

From November 1 through December 15, individuals who need health or dental insurance for 2019 may purchase it on the Maryland Health Care Exchange.

Please visit for more information. There were accessibility issues with this site in the past. We would like to know if these problems have been remedied. Please send a message off list to Sharon Maneki at and share your experience.


Holiday Reminders

This year Newsline has

the usual ads from Target, Walmart, Ace Hardware, Home Depot, Best Buy, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Kohl's, Lowes, Office Depot, and Staples. To read these holiday ads using the telephone access method, press 5 off the main menu for Newspapers in a Different State, and then choose 5 for Holiday Shopping Advertisements. To read the holiday ads using NFB-NEWSLINE Mobile, choose Publications, Publication Options, Publication Groups and then Holiday Shopping Advertisements.


Sign up for Braille letters with Santa today! Go to:


Seasons Greetings

Best Wishes for a holiday season filled with relaxation and fun. May this season of hope renew your spirit so that your dreams may become a reality in 2019.


On a personal note

I am very excited about working with each and every one of you.  The Maryland affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind is vibrant and filled with bright, enthusiastic individuals.  NFBMD members are constantly working hard to ensure that Maryland’s blind can live the lives they want, whether through advocacy, legislative efforts, outreach, education, or the myriad of ways each of you contributes.  With love, hope, and determination, we turn dreams into reality every day.  Thank you for trusting me to lead this incredible organization. 


Important Dates for 2019

•             January 24th – Annual Day in Annapolis.

•             January 28th – Great Gathering meeting in Washington DC at the Holiday Inn at the Capitol.

•             January 29th – Visit to Maryland Congressional Delegation in Washington DC.

•             February 9th – Regional Braille Challenge, held at the Maryland School for the Blind.

•             March 8th – Basket Bingo at The Lodge 2832 9 Mile Cir. Catonsville, MD.

•             March 31st – Deadline for National Scholarship Applications.

•             April 15th – Deadline for NFBMD Scholarship Applications.

•             July 7-12th – NFB National Convention Las Vegas, NV.

•             August 14th – Annual Crab Feast

•             November 8-10 – Annual State Convention, location TBA


Ronza Othman, 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.