May 2019 Minute Message

Fellow Federationists:


I continue to be inspired by our membership.  You show me on a daily basis how blind people can turn dreams into reality.  As we move toward summer, our members continue to work at the grassroots level to ensure that the blind of Maryland achieve equal access to information, obtain meaningful employment, receive high quality education services, and on and on.  In the last month alone, we advocated at several IEPs, worked on two employment litigation matters, gave a training to a college and separately prepared a training for TVIs and parents, advocated for numerous individuals to receive adjustment to blindness training, and helped two students gain approval from Vocational Rehabilitation to attend summer programs at NFB training centers.  I’ve also been privileged to be able to visit with many chapters and divisions as we conduct our Membership Ceremonies, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed meeting many of the people who comprise the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland.  I look forward to visiting the remaining chapters and divisions in the next few months.  Thank you for all you do – we exist because of you, and we thrive because of what you do!


Board of Directors Meeting

Everyone is invited to attend the NFBMD Board of Directors Meeting on Saturday, June 1, from 9:45AM to 2:30PM. The Central Maryland Chapter is hosting this meeting. We will meet at Pfeiffer’s Corner School House in Rockburn Branch Park, 6109 Rockburn Branch Park Road, Elkridge, Maryland 21075.  Lunch will cost $15 per person.  If you plan to attend, please contact Ronza Othman no later than May 29, 2019 at or at 443-426-4110, as we need to take specific lunch orders and ensure sufficient space.  Those planning to attend are asked to bring an item – non-perishable food – that can be donated to a food bank, as one of our members is a volunteer and is seeking donations.


Webinar for Parents, TVIs, and Those Interested in Equal Access to Education for the Blind

Please join the NFB of Maryland and the Maryland School for the Blind (MSB) for a free webinar entitled, “No Limits: Literacy, Information Access, and Mobility - Keys to the Future for Blind Students.” The live webinar, presented by Sharon Maneki, NFBMD Director of Legislation and Advocacy, will be streamed live on May 28, 2019 at 3:00pm.  To register, visit  The presentation will reference laws and parents’ rights as well as stressing the unique needs of blind students for literacy, information access and mobility.  Those who cannot attend the live webinar may view it once it is posted to the MSB youtube channel.  Individuals are encouraged to register for the live webinar even if they cannot attend the live offering, as they will receive a link to the recording as soon as it is posted.  This and all MSB webinars are posted to the MSB youtube channel, which is located at  For questions or assistance registering for the webinar, please contact Maria “Conchita” Hernandez Legorreta at


Sign Your Child Up for NFBBELL

Maryland will once again host three Braille Enrichment in Literacy and Learning (BELL) Programs during the Summer of 2019.  The BELL summer program is a two-week day program (weekends not included) designed to offer pre-kindergarten and elementary age low vision beginning Braille readers an opportunity to be immersed in Braille and increase the use of tactile skills for reading Braille. Children will receive Braille instruction daily as well as learn alternative techniques through arts and crafts, games, field trips, and other fun activities.  Find out more about and register for the BELL program here.  Specific information about Maryland BELL can be found at  For questions, please contact Maryland BELL Coordinator Melissa Riccobono at


Maryland BELL Dates and Locations:

  • Baltimore Bell (for students in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and surrounding areas): July 29 – August 9, 2019
  • Glendale BELL (for students in Montgomery County, PG County, and surrounding areas): July 29 – August 9, 2019
  • Salisbury BELL (for students in Wicomico County, Worcester County, Dorchester County and surrounding areas): July 22 – August 2, 2019


Help Needed: Voting Experiences

We need to hear your story if you:

  • Believe you were the only person or one of just a few people who voted using the electronic Ballot Marking Device (BMD), which is the accessible voting machine, in either of the 2018 elections (primary or general); or
  • Experienced challenges using the BMD in either of the 2018 elections; for example, if you arrived and found the machines not set up or unplugged, if the staff did not know how to operate the machines, if you were discouraged from using the machines, or if there were other challenges of this sort.

Please contact Sharon Maneki at or at 410-715-9596 to share your experiences.


NFBMD Scholarship Finalists

The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland is pleased to announce that two students have been selected as 2019 John T. McCraw  Scholarship finalists.  Daniel Hodges is a rising second-year law student at the University of Baltimore School of Law.  Katelyn Siple is a rising junior studying elementary education at Lancaster Bible College.  They will both be attending the NFB National Convention in Las Vegas and the NFBMD State Convention in Baltimore, so you will have the chance to get to know them.  They will receive their NFBMD scholarships at the state convention in November provided they remain eligible.  We are thrilled with this year’s scholarship class and know you will be impressed as well.


Where’s Your Coin?

In late March, the NFB of Maryland began holding our membership ceremonies for existing members, and we will continue holding these ceremonies at chapter meetings through summer.  It is at this chapter meeting that members will receive their long-awaited and eagerly anticipated NFB Membership Coins – and other surprises.  The NFBMD Board, NFB National Center staff, Greater Baltimore Chapter, Greater Carroll County Chapter, Central Maryland Chapter, and Eastern Shore Chapter have already had their membership ceremonies.  If you are a member of one of these chapters/groups and were not able to attend your membership ceremony, please contact Ronza Othman at


The schedule for chapters and divisions that have not yet had their membership ceremonies is as follows:

  • June 8: Sligo Creek Chapter
  • June 13: Cumberland Chapter
  • June 20: TLC Chapter
  • June 26: Baltimore County Chapter
  • July TBD (Maryland Caucus at National Convention): At-Large Chapter, Parents Division, Students Division, Merchants Division, Seniors Division, and those who could not attend their local chapter ceremonies
  • September 28: National Harbor Chapter

Note: These dates are subject to change.


Time is Winding Down to Pre-Register for 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


NFB Student Seminars

There are two upcoming student seminars. The Southeast Student Seminar will be August 16-18, and the Pacific Student Seminar will be August 9-11. Registration opens May 15 for each of them. Contact Kathryn Webster at with questions.


NFB RideShare Testing Program

We continue to 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.



Come Run With Us for Braille Literacy!

Join the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado and the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland for the second annual 6 Dot Dash. The 6 Dot Dash is a 5K Race to raise awareness and funds for Braille Literacy and blindness skills training. The name “6 Dot Dash” comes from the six dots which make up the Braille cell. A combination of these six dots makes up every letter in the Braille alphabet. For individuals who are blind or low vision, these 6 dots represent literacy, independence, and the opportunity to live the lives we want.  The race will be physically held in Colorado, and Marylanders may run virtually, meaning they still physically run, but they do so in Maryland rather than Colorado.


To race virtually and support NFBMD, use the promotional code “NFBMD” (all caps and without the quotes)  and register at  Participants will receive a race Tee shirt, finishers medal and virtual coupons.  The NFB of Maryland will receive $5 for every race participant that uses the code.

 If there is interest among Marylanders to run as a group, the affiliate will organize an in-person route.  For questions,  Please contact Ronza Othman at or 443-426-4110 or Jessica Beecham at or 615-497-0435.


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 specific 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. 


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 Graham Mell at with details of their events for posting. If you have ideas about other information that you would like to see on the website, please contact Ronza Othman at


Important Dates for 2019

  • June 1 – Board of Directors Meeting; Elkridge , 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