September 2019 Minute Message

Fellow Federationists:


As Summer comes to a close, we have had a very busy September.  Several of our Chapters held their annual picnics.  We have ramped up our advocacy efforts, and our chapters and Divisions are working hard to plan Meet the Blind Month activities.  And of course, our Annual State Convention is just around the corner.  Please read below for information about important happenings around the affiliate. 


The State Convention is Almost Here – Deadline to Make Room Reservations & Preregister is October 12, 2019!

You will not want to miss the state convention at the Crown Plaza Downtown Baltimore Inner Harbor in Baltimore which takes place on November 8-10, 2019.  This year, our National Representative will be Carla McQuillan, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Oregon.  You may reserve your room by calling the Crown Plaza at 410-347-5707.  Convention Room Rates:  Standard Room - $85 per night. Tax on sleeping rooms is 15.5%.  These room rates start on Thursday, November 7, 2019.  The deadline for making room reservations is October 12, 2019. 


You may preregister for the Convention by visiting or by contacting me at to request a paper form.  Below are the prices for the various convention activities (prices are per person unless otherwise stated):

  • Pre-registration = $20 until October 12, 2019; $25 on-site
  • Banquet ticket = $40 until October 12, 2019; $45 on-site
  • Parent or Senior Luncheon ticket = $22 until October 12, 2019; $25 on-site
  • Friday boxed lunch = $16 until October 12, 2019; $20 on-site
  • Picnic & a Play tickets = $18 until October 12, 2019; $20 on-site
  • Transportation from New Carrollton Train Station = $35 until October 12, 2019; this covers round-trip travel
  • Childcare = $30 per child and $50 per family for the entire weekend   


Please plan to join us at the Crown Plaza.


Financial Assistance Application for State Convention – Final Call!

Individuals who wish to request financial assistance to attend the 2019 NFB of Maryland State Convention must complete and submit a Financial Assistance Application Form no later than October 1, 2019.  Individuals are encouraged to first check with their local chapters and divisions to see what financial assistance may be available.  If a member’s chapter does not have a financial assistance program, or if there is still unmet financial need, members may complete and submit the form to the State affiliate.  More information about the NFBMD Financial Assistance Application Form is available at  For questions, please contact me at 443-426-4110 or at


Seeking Resolutions for the State Convention

The Convention is the supreme authority of the National Federation of the Blind, and this too is true of the affiliates.  One of the most important charges of the Convention is to consider and vote on resolutions that come before it; those resolutions become the policy of the organization.  To that end, individuals interested in submitting resolutions should send them to NFBMD Resolutions Chairman Jesse Hartle by email at by October 19, 2019.


Seeking Convention Sponsors and Exhibitors

We are seeking sponsors for our 2019 NFB of Maryland State Convention.  There are various levels of sponsorship, and the various levels include different benefits.  Entities and individuals interested in serving as an NFBMD Convention sponsor should contact Anil Lewis at to request additional information. 


We are also seeking exhibitors for our Friday Exhibit Hall.  Individuals and entities interested in exhibiting should also contact Anil Lewis at to request additional information.


Seeking Nominations for the 2019 Distinguished Educator of Blind Children

The Maryland Organization of Parents of Blind Children (MDPOBC) is seeking nominations for the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children.  Please tell us how your child’s teacher works to help his or her students live the life they want with high expectation and strong skill development.  Nominations are due to Sharon Maneki by October 7, 2019.  Please visit to download the nomination form and send it to  For questions, please contact Sharon Maneki at 410-715-9596.


Central Maryland Chapter Fundraiser – September 30, 2019

The NFBMD Central Maryland Chapter will be holding its fundraiser on Monday, September 30, 2019 between 11:00AM and 10:00PM at Tino’s Italian Bistro in Columbia.  You do not need to mention you are with the NFB for the Central Maryland Chapter to receive a part of your check.  For this fundraiser, a local business gives nonprofits a percentage of its sales on a particular day.  That means you eat at Tino’s and the Central Maryland Chapter gets a cut of your check.  For questions about this event, please contact Sharon Maneki at or at 410-715-9596.

  • Tino’s Italian Bistro – 8775 Center Park Drive, Columbia, MD 21045


Meet the Blind Month Activities

The below are just some of our Meet the Blind Month activities.  Please visit for information on these and additional activities.

  • At Large Chapter:
    • Thursday, October 10, 2019 at 12:30PM: Meet the Blind Panel Discussion for the Zeta-Healthy Aging Program (Z-HAP) – Langston Hughes Business and Resource Community Center, 5011 Arbutus Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215
    • October 12, 2019 at 12:15PM: An Afternoon at the Movies (Movie and Fundraiser) - Scent of a Woman Film Showing and lunch; donation of $10 per person is requested – National Federation of the Blind, 200 East Wells, Baltimore, MD 21230
  • Central Maryland Chapter & MDPOBC
    • October 5 and 6, 2019 from 10:00AM to Close: Wizarding Weekend on Magical Main OEC (Old Ellicott City) – Main Street, Ellicott City, Maryland
  • National Harbor
  • October 12, 2019 from 10:00AM – 2:00PM: Ninth Annual Resource Day for People with Blindness or Low Vision – Colmar Manor Town Hall, 3701 Lawrence Street, Colmar Manor, MD 20722 (just outside of the DC line from Bladensburg, NE)
  • Greater Baltimore Chapter
    • October 5, 2019: Farmers Market Booth – Federal Hill Farmers Market, Baltimore, MD


NFB Files for a Preliminary Injunction to Compel the Maryland Board of Elections to Use the BMDs as the Default Method for All Voters in the 2020 General Election So the Blind Can Have the Secret Ballot Restored!

In August, the National Federation of the Blind, the NFB of Maryland, and three blind members, Joel Zimba, Marie Cobb, and Ruth Sager, filed suit in Federal Court against the Maryland Board of Elections.  The suit asserts that the Maryland Board of Elections maintains a segregated system of voting that denies blind voters their right to a secret ballot and equal voting experience as non-disabled voters.  The suit claims this violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act and that the Board of Elections’ actions are discriminatory based on disability.  In early September, the Board of Elections filed a Motion to Dismiss our lawsuit, claiming: 1) the Board could not get the appropriate number of BMDs from the manufacturer; 2) the policy the Board adopted in June 2019 to require 5 people to use the BMD at each polling location solves our problem of not having private ballots; and 3) it would be too costly to obtain a sufficient number of BMDs.  The Board later corrected itself, saying it could indeed get enough BMDs from the manufacturer to make the BMDs the default, but it was standing by its other two reasons for not thinking it should have to do so. 


On September 20, 2019, we filed for a preliminary injunction to compel the Board of Elections to have to use the BMDs as the default means for all voters in the 2020 General Election unless a voter specifically asks for a paper ballot.  We argued that we should not have to sacrifice our privacy and civil rights for the illusion of security and that since the Board is able to obtain enough machines, they should do so.  We also argued that since the Board couldn’t successfully get even two people to use the BMDs before, they aren’t going to succeed in getting five to use them unless the BMDs are the default method of voting.


We will continue to fight to restore the secret ballot and desegregate voting in Maryland – and we’ll do whatever it takes, as long as it takes!


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.



use Amazon smile

Since this is the season of anniversaries, weddings and graduations, be sure

to use Amazon smile and choose NFBMD for your charity when you purchase that special gift.    Go to


Important Upcoming Dates

  • September 23, 2019 – MDABS Fundraiser at Mothers Grille
  • September 30, 2019 – Central Maryland Chapter Fundraiser at Tino’s Italian Bistro
  • October 1 – 31 – Meet the Blind Month
  • October 15 - National White Cane Awareness Day.
  • November 8-10 – Annual State Convention – Crown Plaza Baltimore Downtown
  • February 10, 2020 – Great Gathering In, Washington Seminar, Washington, DC
  • March 13, 2020 – Basket Bingo
  • June 30 – July 5, 2020 – NFB National Convention, Houston, Texas
  • August 8, 2020 – Crab Feast