March 2019 Minute Message

Fellow Federationists:


Spring has arrived, and it is a season of planting seeds so that flowers and gardens may grow as the year progresses.  We in the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland have been very busy with a myriad of projects and initiatives, and we are using every extra minute of daylight Spring has given us to help our members and Maryland’s blind live the lives they want.


Yanking the Weeds of Voter Segregation and Planting the Seeds of Equality in Annapolis

In March, NFBMD attended numerous hearings related to desegregation in voting and regulating e-scooters.  We need assistance Monday evening, April 1 and Wednesday through Friday, April 3 – 5.  If you are available to go to Annapolis on any of those days, please contact Sharon Maneki at  If you recall, this year, our legislative priorities include: ending segregation in voting and restoring the secret ballot to disabled voters by ensuring a single voting system for all; establishing regulations for electronic/Dockless scooters; and protecting the $250,000 appropriation in the Governor’s budget for the Center of Excellence in Nonvisual Access (CENA) to Education, Public Information, and Commerce. You may read the fact sheets about each issue by visiting or on the Information Channel on Newsline.  Thank you to those of you who have written letters to your Senators and Delegates on our issues; we need you to make one last push toward getting the legislation advanced as the Maryland General Assembly winds down its legislative session on April 8.  Thus, we are asking you to email and call your representatives.  For specific information about to whom to write and how to contact them, please visit


Digging Out Discrimination in the Entertainment Industry: Time for a Protest

The CW television network, which is affiliated with CBS, plans to launch a television series called in The Dark that features a blind character who is not played by a blind actor.  We issued a strong statement urging the cancellation of the series and reached out to all of the executives affiliated with the show. We have received a response but have yet to secure a meeting prior to the planned April 4 debut. We now need to follow up with action. We cannot allow Hollywood to define us any longer. 


On Tuesday, April 2, 2019, the National Federation of the Blind will be holding a protest in New York concerning the use of sighted actors to portray blind characters in the entertainment industry.  The Maryland affiliate will be participating in the protest, and we need to know who will be able to attend. We will be providing transportation and leaving from the National Center in Baltimore at 5:30AM and returning at about 6:00PM.  If you are able to attend, please contact Ronza Othman at or by calling 443-426-4110.  The blind belong at the center of our own stories, playing blind characters and taking our place on screen along-side our sighted colleagues.


Growing the Movement Through Food and Auction

Get ready for a nice evening out. Join us on April 6 from 5 to 9 pm for our Bid-for-Opportunity dinner and auction to benefit the John T. McCraw Scholarship Program and NFBMD youth activities. The event will take place at the VFW Post 9619, 6527 Suitland Rd, Morningside, MD 20746. For more information email Debbie Brown at or Michelle Clark at  There will be transportation from the NFB National Center in Baltimore for those who need it; please contact Ronza Othman at or at 443-426-4110.


Planting the Seeds of Networking: Elevate Your Business – and Support Our Merchants!

Come join the NFB of Maryland’s Merchant’s Division for an afternoon of fun, great food, delicious cocktails, business connections, 50/50 raffle & more on Saturday, June 13, 3:00 – 6:00 at a Spring Networking Mixer at Flavor Restaurant, 15 East Center Street, Baltimore, MD.  Please RSVP to Melba Taylor at


Growing the Movement Through the NFBMD Scholarship Program

The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland administers a scholarship program for post-secondary students.  The deadline to apply for an NFBMD Scholarship is April 15, 2019.  Each year, the NFB of Maryland awards the John T. McCraw Scholarship to two students in the amounts of $2,000 and $1,500 each.  NFBMD may award a third scholarship to a former McCraw scholarship recipient. 

  • Scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement and community involvement.
  • Application materials must be submitted (online or postmarked) by 11:59PM on April 15, 2019.
  • To be eligible, applicants must:
    • Be legally blind in both eyes;
    • Be a legal resident of Maryland or be pursuing post-secondary studies at a school in Maryland;
    • Be pursuing or planning to pursue a full-time, post-secondary course of study in a degree program in the Fall of 2019; and
    • Attend the entire National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Las Vegas, Nevada from July 7 through 12, 2019 and the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland in Baltimore, Maryland from November 8 – 10, 2019 (scholarship finalists will receive convention assistance).
  • To apply:


Growing the Movement Through Fun Raffles

The NFBMD spring raffle is underway. During the month of May, you have the opportunity to win $50 Sunday through Friday, or $100 on Saturday. Purchase a 3-digit number raffle ticket for $5. You will be the only one who has this number.  If you want to buy or sell tickets, please contact Melissa Riccobono at


Growing the Movement Through Song

Join us on May 5, 2019 for a Recital and Sing-A-Long, benefiting NFBBELL Academy at the Jernigan Institute, 200 East Wells St., Baltimore, MD 21230, featuring Melissa Riccobono. Advanced tickets cost $10. Tickets will be $15 at the door. To purchase tickets in advance, contact Melissa Riccobono at or Ronza Othman at


Enjoying the Fruits of Our Labor: Membership

In the coming months, each local chapter will be holding a Membership Ceremony for existing members.  It is at this chapter meeting that members will receive their long-awaited and eagerly anticipated NFB Membership Coins – and other surprises.  For questions about the specific date and time of a particular chapter’s membership ceremony, please contact your chapter president. 


The Movement in Splendor: National Convention

You will not want to miss the 2019 National Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada from July 7-12. Save money and pre-register today! Pre-registration closes on May 31 at midnight. You may pre-register and purchase a banquet ticket online.


Planting the Seeds of Equality in Ride Share Programs: NFB Ride Share Testing Program

We still need your help.  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. In Maryland, we have to complete a certain number of surveys each year.  You can submit a survey for every trip you took, so please look back at your ride history and do this if you haven’t already done so.  Please go to or use the NFB Connect app (instructions below) 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. Ashley Alvey is the Maryland coordinator for this program. If you have questions email her at


NFB Connect App instructions for Rideshare Survey

  1. On the top left corner of the screen, you will find a button that says, Menu button. Double tap Menu.
  2. After double tapping on menu, at the top left corner of the screen, you will see Home.
  3. Swipe to the right once and you will see Fast Facts. Double tap Fast Facts.
  4. You will swipe right until you see, Rideshare Survey. Double tap Rideshare Survey.
  5. Lastly, swipe to the right. When you see First Name, this is where the form begins and this is where you put in the information for the survey.


Important Dates for 2019

  • April 6 – Bid for Opportunity at VFW Post 9619, 6527 Suitland Rd, Morningside, MD
  • April 13 – MABM Networking Mixer at Flavor Restaurant, 15 East Center Street, Baltimore, MD
  • April 15th – Deadline for NFBMD Scholarship Applications.
  • May 5 - Recital and Sing-A-Long, benefiting NFB BELL Academy, Jernigan Institute, 200 East Wells St., Baltimore, MD
  • June 1 – Board of Directors Meeting; Columbia, Maryland
  • June 16 – 22 – NFB EQ, Baltimore, MD
  • July 7-12th – NFB National Convention Las Vegas, NV.
  • July 22 – August 2 – NFB BELL Academy, Salisbury, MD
  • July 29 – August 9 – NFB BELL Academy, Baltimore and Glendale, MD
  • August 17th – Annual Crab Feast - Tall Cedars, 2501 Putty Hill Ave., Parkville, MD 21234
  • November 8-10 – Annual State Convention – Crown Plaza Baltimore Downtown