June 2020 Minute Message

Fellow Federationists:


We are about to hold our first ever virtual National Federation of the Blind Annual Convention, and it promises to be the biggest and best yet.  As we make final preparations for the national convention, we continue to work hard to protect the rights of blind Marylanders.  This is a very busy and exciting time to be a Federationist.


Please read below for information about news and upcoming activities.


NFB National Convention Is Coming – Virtual and Better Than Ever!

The National Federation of the Blind 2020 Annual Convention is just a few weeks away.  Though we will have a virtual convention in that we will not be travelling to Houston, this convention promises to be the biggest and best in history.  The Convention will take place from Tuesday, July 14 through Saturday, July 18. 


NFBMD will not be holding any official in-person activities due to public health and social distancing rules, but members are welcome to hold small Caucus and Banquet parties if they wish. 


The local chapters and divisions worked hard to register as many members and supporters as possible by the June 15, 2020 registration deadline.  We will soon find out if Maryland was able to beat Texas, Louisiana, Colorado, and California for the highest registration numbers.  If we do have the highest number of registrants of all affiliates, everyone who registered will have their name entered into a drawing to receive cash prizes. 


The agenda, which contains Zoom access information for all of the events and general sessions, is available at https://nfb.org/convention.


One More Step Required to Vote at the NFB National Convention

Those wishing to be able to vote during the national convention, for example for resolutions and during elections, need to take one additional step to be able to do so.  Individuals who are current dues-paying members of a local chapter or division of NFBMD and those who registered for the national convention on or before June 15, 2020, are eligible to enroll to vote.  To enroll to vote, those individuals should visit https://nfbvote.org, enter their first and last name exactly as they entered them when they registered for Convention, and enter the phone number they plan to use to either text or call in their votes.  Each household member will need to enroll in voting using a different phone number.  All voting enrollment must be completed by July 12, 2020.  If you need assistance enrolling to vote, please contact your chapter president or me at President@nfbmd.org or at 443-426-4110. 


NFB Rookie Roundup - Tuesday, July 7, 2020 at 8:30PM

This year is a first for all of us. All convention attendees are cordially invited to attend a welcoming Zoom meeting Tuesday, July 7 from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. EDT. President Riccobono and Pam Allen will be on hand to kick off the convention a week before it starts and preview its activities.

Click this link to join: https://zoom.us/j/91250893803
Or dial: +1 301 715 8592
Zoom Webinar ID: 912 5089 3803
One-tap mobile: +13017158592,,91250893803#


NFBMD Convention Orientation – Thursday, July 9, 2020 at 8:00PM

The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland will once again be hosting a National Convention Orientation for Marylanders on Thursday, July 9, 2020 starting at 8:00PM.  All Marylanders who are attending an NFB national convention for the first time and/or attending a virtual NFB national convention for the first time are welcome.  We will be discussing what to expect, Maryland-specific events and activities, and mentoring and getting assistance during the convention.

Click this link to join: https://zoom.us/j/6248138327

Meeting ID: 624 813 8327

One tap mobile

+13017158592,,6248138327# US (Germantown)

16468769923,,6248138327# US +(New York)

Dial by your location

        +1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)

        +1 646 876 9923 US (New York)


NFBMD Caucus– Friday, July 17, 2020 at 11:00AM

We will be holding the Maryland Caucus during the NFB National Convention, and it promises to be action-packed.  Come to meet the NFBMD State Scholarship winners, our National scholarship winner, discuss the resolutions that will come before the convention, and so much more!  This is a very important event, so please plan to attend.


The meeting will be virtual.  Though we will be using Zoom, the log-in information is different from our usual meeting ID, so please use the below instead of our usual Zoom link and access code.


Date: Friday, July 17, 2020

Time: 11:00AM – 1:00PM

Click this link to join: https://zoom.us/j/99554284438
Or dial: +1 301 715 8592
Zoom Webinar ID: 995 5428 4438
One-tap mobile: +13017158592,,99554284438# US (Germantown)

16468769923,, 99554284438# US +(New York)

Dial by your location

        +1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)

        +1 646 876 9923 US (New York)


Crabbing for Student Scholarships

Please purchase your tickets today for the NFB of Maryland Annual Crab Feast.  This fundraiser supports the John T McCraw Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships to blind post-secondary education students.

When: Saturday, August 8, 2020 - 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Where: Tall Cedars - 2501 Putty Hill Ave - Parkville, MD 21234

Tickets are $60 each if purchased before July 24, or $65 afterwards. Children 6 and under are free. 

Special Promotion: Buy or Sell 25 or more tickets and get your ticket FREE!

Dancing, 50 / 50 Raffle, Door Prizes, and more.

Menu Includes:
Steamed Crabs, Pit Beef, turkey breast, & Ham – All You Can Eat!
Plus a Buffet of Entrees Including Old Bay wings and Sausage, Sides, Salad, Cake…
Yuengling and Miller beer
Carbonated Beverages, iced tea, and Coffee

To purchase tickets, visit http://www.nfbmd.org/crabs

For additional information contact me at (443) 426-4110 or email President@NFBMD.org


Please note: At this time, we fully intend to hold this event in-person.  However, this is subject to change based on local public health directives related to COVID-19.  If the State of Maryland, Baltimore City, or Baltimore County lower in-person event attendance maximums to less than 50%, this event may be postponed or changed to pick-up only.  We will communicate directly with ticket-holders to advise them of any changes. 


NFBMD Response to COVID-19

The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland is working to proactively respond to the COVID-19 crisis while maintaining regular operations.  We are open and operating consistent with State and local public health determinations.  We have created a webpage to share information and resources in connection with COVID-19 that can be accessed by visiting http://www.nfbmd.org/covid19.  This page will be updated regularly.  The NFB National Office has also established a web page for information about COVID-19, which can be accessed at https://www.nfb.org/resources/covid-19-resources.  COVID-19 information is also available in the Breaking News section of NFB Newsline.


 NFBMD has taken the following steps to respond to the coronavirus outbreak:

  • We have established an NFBMD COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund.  Blind individuals and their families may request financial assistance for essentials such as groceries and medication.  Anyone interested in donating to this fund may contact me for information on how to do so.  Additional information about this program is available later in this newsletter.
  • We are holding weekly affiliate calls on Wednesdays at 8:00PM.  We are spending the first portion of each meeting sharing updated information and new resources related to COVID-19 and the remainder of the meeting as a forum for members to connect socially.  To join the Wednesday evening meeting, use one of the following methods:
    • Online direct link: https://zoom.us/j/6248138327
    • Meeting ID: 624 813 8327
    • One tap mobile:
      •         +13017158592,,6248138327# US (Germantown)
      •         +16468769923,,6248138327# US (New York)
      • +13126266799,,6248138327# US (Chicago)
    • Dial by phone:
      •         +13017158592 US (Germantown)
      • +1 646 876 9923 US (New York)
      • +1 312 6          26 6799 US (Chicago)
      • Meeting ID: 624 813 8327
  • WE have been and will continue to host virtual workshops on a variety of topics, including how to use Zoom, how to use the Victor Reader Stream, how to improve use of memory, how to make masks, and other matters of interest.  To suggest a topic or to offer to lead a workshop, please contact Debbie Brown at deborahb14@verizon.net or at 301—881-1892.  Please visit our COVID-19 web page at http://www.nfbmd.org/covid19 to find the most up-to-date list of virtual seminars. 
  • Given that the usual methods of public transportation are diminished or altered, we are seeking and providing volunteers to assist our members with running essential errands and transportation to medical appointments.  If you are interested in volunteering to assist with this initiative, please contact me at President@nfbmd.org or at 443-426-4110.
  • WE provided transportation for those individuals who needed assistance getting to an in-person voting site in order to vote for the April 28, 2020 District 7 Special General Election and June 2 state-wide Primary Election.
  • We are providing assistance filling out forms and accessing the Maryland Beacon System, the platform that administers the Maryland unemployment application and reporting program since it is not fully accessible at this time.  Those needing assistance should contact Sharon Maneki at NFBMD@earthlink.net or call 410-715-9596.
  • We are providing assistance to members who do not have the technology or otherwise cannot complete their IRS Non-Filer Forms in order to ensure that those individuals receive their economic impact payments.  Such individuals are generally those receiving SSI, SSDI, Social Security retirement, or VA benefits and need to complete this form in order to receive the economic impact payment for dependents.  Those needing assistance should contact Sharon Maneki at NFBMD@earthlink.net or call 410-715-9596.
  • WE are working to ensure that drive-up COVID-19 testing facilities also serve the blind given that they cannot “drive up” as well as working to ensure that walk-up testing facilities are accessible to the blind.
  • We are monitoring and engaging in advocacy related to situations that arise due to COVID-19 that disparately impact our blind community.  If you know of an entity or establishment that is serving the public but is refusing to serve the blind, please contact me immediately at 443-426-4110 or at President@nfbmd.org.  Such situations may relate to drive-through restaurants not allowing blind pedestrians to order and purchase food, COVID-19 testing facilities refusing to provide services to individuals who cannot drive, inaccessible technology for those who are engaging in teleschooling, and similar refusals/denials of service. 
  • We are working hard to ensure that the blind of Maryland have equal access to essential services and information.  These efforts include but are not limited to:
    • working to ensure that Maryland Executive Orders and information are accessible; and
    • Collaborating with government entities to ensure that COVID-19 testing and response procedures are accessible.

Please visit the NFBMD COVID-19 webpage often for updated information and resources.


NFBMD COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund

We have established an affiliate COVID-19 fund to assist individuals and families that are experiencing financial hardship during the COVID-19 crisis.  This fund is available to blind individuals and families with a blind household member living in Maryland.  The financial assistance must be needed due to a change in circumstance, e.g. loss of employment income, because of COVID-19 or associated government directives like the Stay-at-Home order.  Assistance is limited to essentials such as groceries and medication.  This Fund is being administered by the NFBMD Financial Assistance Committee.  Anyone who is wishing to request assistance should contact me at President@nfbmd.org or at 443-426-4110.


In addition, we are seeking contributions to augment the NFBMD COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund.  Those interested in making a monetary donation may do so by sending a check to NFBMD, 15 Charles Plaza, #3002, Baltimore, Maryland 21201 or by using the PayPal donation link on our website located at http://www.nfbmd.org/COVID-19Fund


NFB BELL Academy In-Home Edition!

the NFB BELL Academy In-Home Edition will teach critical nonvisual techniques and Braille literacy to blind children nationwide ages 4 through 12.  Due to the public health considerations associated with COVID-19, the NFB BELL Academy will be offered virtually rather than in person.  NFB BELL has been condensed into three nationally taught and coordinated sessions with support from NFBMD.  Each two-week session will take place Monday through Friday for 45 minutes at 11:00AM and 6:00PM (participants need only attend one of the daily sessions).  The date of the remaining session is as follows:

  • July 27 – August 7, 2020


Each registered student will receive the materials to complete all sessions alongside their parent/guardian by mail.  There will be two daily opportunities to connect with an experienced teacher by phone or web during each session.  NFBMD will provide additional support and assistance throughout the sessions.


Registration is free to families.  Participants may register by visiting https://www.nfb.org/form/nfb-bell-academy-home-edition.  Anyone needing assistance with registering should contact NFBMD BELL Coordinator Lizzy Muhammad at lizzy.muhammad@outlook.com or at 484-624-9778.


Important Upcoming Dates

  • July 14 –18, 2020 – NFB National Convention, Houston, Texas
  • July 27 – August 7, 2020 – NFB BELL Academy In-Home Edition
  • August 8, 2020 – Annual Crab Feast - Tall Cedars, 2501 Putty Hill Ave., Parkville, MD 21234
  • August 21, 2020 – Basket and Bag Bingo at The Lodge, 2832 9 Mile Cir. Catonsville, MD.
  • September 19, 2020 – Scholarship Dinner and Bid for Opportunity at VFW Post 9619, 6527 Suitland Rd, Morningside, MD
  • November 6-8, 2020 – Annual State Convention, Towson, Maryland
  • January 21, 2021 – NFBMD Day in Annapolis
  • February 8, 2021 – Washington Seminar Great Gathering In
  • February 9, 2021 – Maryland Day on the Hill
  • September 19 – 26, 2021 – Blind Cruising 2020, Carnival Pride, Departing from Port of Baltimore