September 2020 Minute Message

Fellow Federationists:


As Summer comes to a close, we reflect on all we have accomplished.  We continue to work hard to ensure that students have equal access to curriculum and materials during the teleschooling environment.  We are responsive to the needs of the blind related to access to information and services during the pandemic.  WE are fighting against public transportation service cuts that adversely impact the blind.  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 and please particular attention to the action items with tight deadlines. 



Rise Up: The State Convention is Coming!

You will not want to miss the state convention which takes place on November 6-8, 2020.  This year’s virtual convention will take place anywhere and everywhere. 


This year, our National Representative will be Pam Allen, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Louisiana, Chairman and First Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind Board of Directors, and Executive Director of the Louisiana Center for the Blind. 


Convention pre-registration is open now.  Be looking in your mailbox for hard copy registration forms or visit  Preregistration is $20 per adult and free for kids on or prior to October 16, 2020.  Late registration after October 16, 2020 is $25 per adult and free for kids.  Those who register after October 16, 2020 will not be eligible for door prizes, voting, and other convention aspects requiring access to systems and platforms other than Zoom.


Please plan to join us anywhere and everywhere for our annual convention.


Pay Your 2020 Dues to be Eligible to Vote at the NFBMD State Convention – Deadline September 30, 2020

Those wishing to vote at the NFB of Maryland State Convention must pay their 2020 chapter or division dues prior to September 30, 2020.  Individuals may use NFBMD’s Dues Portal to pay their 2020 annual dues, 2021 annual dues, and/or lifetime membership dues for those chapters that have lifetime membership.  The portal lists all NFBMD chapters and divisions and their dues amounts.  Individuals may pay for as many chapters and divisions as they wish.  The portal is located at  Alternatively, individuals may mail a check to their chapter or division treasurer.


Enroll to Vote at the NFBMD State Convention – Deadline October 16, 2020!

Those wishing to vote at the NFB of Maryland State Convention must enroll in our voting system prior to October 16, 2020.  In order to be eligible to vote, you need to:  

  1. be a member in good standing of an NFB of Maryland chapter or division for the 2020 calendar year (this means you paid your 2020 dues prior to September 30, 2020 – visit to pay online);
  2. Be registered for the NFB of Maryland 54th Annual Convention prior to October 16, 2020 – visit to register online or return your hard copy registration form with your $20 per person registration fee; and
  3. Enroll in our online voting system on or before October 16, 2020 using the link


If you need assistance enrolling in the voting system, please reach out to your chapter president or a member of the NFB of Maryland Board of Directors.


We are using the same voting system as the NFB National Convention.  Enrolled voters must register the phone number they intend to use via the online link above.  They will vote by either sending a text message to a unique number I will provide closer to the convention or by calling a unique phone number I will provide closer to the convention.  Individuals should register one phone per person in the household, meaning each person should have a different enrolled phone number.  The rule is one vote per phone number.  Individuals should also use a phone for voting they can manage simultaneously while listening to the convention, or otherwise understand that they may miss parts of the convention while casting their votes if a single device is used for voting and listening. 


Please be sure to select “Maryland” when enrolling to vote on


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 16, 2019.


Seeking Convention Sponsors and Exhibitors

We are seeking sponsors for our 2020 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 me at or Jen White at to request additional information.


We are also seeking exhibitors for our Friday Exhibit Hall.  Individuals and entities interested in exhibiting should also contact me at or Jen White at to request additional information.  The Exhibit Hall will be virtual.


The deadline for sponsors and exhibitors to submit their forms is October 9, 2020.


Seeking Door Prize Donations

We are seeking donations of door prizes to give away at the NFB of Maryland Annual Convention.  Door prizes should have a cash value of a minimum of $25 each.  Given the virtual nature of the Convention, we would prefer to receive monetary contributions (checks payable to NFB of Maryland).  Please do not send perishables.  We are asking for donations prior to October 23, 2020.  Please make a monetary donation using the PayPal button at and be sure to put Convention Door Prize donation in the comment box.  Alternatively, please mail door prize donations to:

NFB of Maryland - Door Prizes

1800 Johnson Street, Suite N1

Baltimore, MD 21230


Seeking Auction Donations

We are seeking donations for the NFBMD auction.  Given the virtual nature of the convention, we are only accepting donations of experiences and commitments to provide baked goods.  Some examples of experiences include taking the winner to dinner, giving cooking lessons, etc.  We are asking for donation commitments prior to October 23, 2020.  Please notify Convention Host Committee Chairman Scott White of your donation via email at or by phone at 410-868-9519.


Seeking Nominations for the NFBMD Distinguished Educator of Blind Students Award!

The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland is seeking nominations for the 2020 Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award. Please tell us how your child’s teacher works to help his or her students live the life they want with high expectations and strong skill development. Nominations should be sent to Committee Chairperson Teresa Graham at To download the nomination form and for more information, visit  For assistance completing the form or for questions, please call Teresa Graham at 443-557-8696. The award will be presented at the NFB of Maryland Virtual state convention Banquet on November 7, 2020.  Please submit nominations by October 9, 2020.



Seeking Nominations for the Bernard F. Turner Award!

We are seeking nominations for the Bernard F. Turner Award.  This award will be given at the Annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland.  The recipient will receive $200.  The deadline to apply is October 16, 2020.  Individuals must submit their application directly to the Bernard F. Turner Foundation with a copy to NFBMD.  NFBMD is providing the venue for this award but is not involved in selecting recipients.


To apply, download and fill out the nomination form located at and send it to or

Bernard F. Turner Award Team

PO Box 54176

Washington, DC 20032-4176


The eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • This award is open to blind people who lost their sight between the ages of 18-60.
  • Applicants must demonstrate the need for the award through a brief narrative and supporting documentation.
  • One application per person.
  • The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland (NFBMD) will advertise and encourage people to apply for this award.  The winner is expected to attend the annual NFBMD convention, November 6-8, which will be virtual. The final decision on the winner will be made by the Turner family.
  • Applications will be accepted from September 13, 2020 through October 16, 2020.
  • The winner will be notified by October 31.  The $200 award will be presented November 7 at the NFBMD convention banquet.
  • When you submit your application, please send a separate note to Sharon Maneki, including proof that you have preregistered for the State Convention. Please note her new email address. You may either mail your application to the address provided or send it electronically to and we will make sure that the Turner family receives it or send it to both.


NFBMD Virtual Night at the Theater – October 16, 2020!

Please join the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland for our 2020 Virtual Night at the Theater on October 16, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. This is a Meet the Blind Month activity, so please share this event with family, friends, and members of your communities. We will feature theatrical performances by blind people, including a rebroadcast of a Mock Trial and a dramatic Braille performance.

Tickets cost $20 per person on or before October 2 and $25 thereafter. Everyone who purchases a ticket will be entered into a drawing to receive a gift certificate for steamed crabs. We will announce the winner at the Virtual Night at the Theater.

To purchase a ticket, use the PayPal link located at or send a check to:

National Federation of the Blind of Maryland

Virtual Night at the Theater

1800 Johnson Street, Suite N1

Baltimore, MD 21230>p>

For questions, contact Committee Chairpersons Ellen Ringlein at or Jen White at


Jamming with the At-Large Chapter – A Concert to Commemorate Meet the Blind Month

The At-Large Chapter of the NFBMD presents “Jamming with the At-Large Chapter”, a concert for everyone.  This event will take place via Zoom on Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 7:00 p.m.  Though this event is not ticketed, we suggest a donation of $12 per person.


Travel through the decades from Chuck Berry to the present. There will be music for every taste including country, Christian rock, jazz, pop rock and more.  Get out the snacks, bring your own beverage, put on your dancing shoes, and enjoy this night of music and fun!


Please register by Wednesday, October 21, so that we have time to send you the Zoom information. You may register by contacting Sharon Maneki at or calling 410-715-9596.  Be sure to include your email address when you register.


You may donate by using the PayPal button located at or by mailing a check payable to NFBMD to At-Large Chapter Treasurer Sharon Maneki at:

9013 Nelson Way

Columbia, MD 21045

NFBMD Crab Feast and Basket and Bag Bingo – Canceled!

I regret to report that we have had to cancel both the NFBMD Crab Feast and Basket and Bag Bingo.  We have sent hard copy letters to everyone who has purchased tickets for both events to ask whether ticket holders would like a refund or to convert the cash value of their tickets to donations to NFBMD.  Crab Feast ticket holders should contact me at or at 443-426-4110.  Basket and Bag Bingo ticket holders should contact Sharon Maneki at or at 410-715-9596.  Basket and Bag Bingo is scheduled to return on March 12, 2021, and the NFBMD Crab Feast is scheduled to return on August 7, 2021.


Zoom Password Requirements Effective September 1

The Zoom platform is requiring meetings and events to incorporate a password beginning this Fall.  NFBMD is implementing this change effective September 1, 2020.  Any meeting hosted by the NFBMD Zoom account will use the same password.  This includes the Wednesday night COVID-19 calls, Sligo Creek, Greater Baltimore, and Central Maryland Chapter Meetings, Parent Division activities, chapter board meetings, and so on.  Note that Carroll County and TLC Chapter meetings as well as Student Division Chill Hours use a different account and will thus have a different password.


The password for NFBMD-hosted meetings will be the numeric equivalent of “NFBMD,” which is 63263. 


NFBMD COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund

We continue to operate 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 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


Reminder to Prepare to Vote

In the wake of the global pandemic, many states, including Maryland, have modified the manner of voting for the November 3, 2020 Presidential General Election.  Maryland plans to significantly reduce it’s in-person early voting centers and same-day voting sites.  As a result, individuals should plan ahead in order to ensure access to a voting location.  NFBMD encourages those who are able and who are not in high-risk categories to vote in person if possible.  To find a list of voting locations, visit the Maryland State Board of Elections website at:


As a result of previous litigation that NFBMD undertook, Maryland is required to offer an accessible absentee voting system.  This enables the blind to gain access to an accessible computer-based ballot using their assistive technology.  The voter marks the ballot using the voter’s computer and then prints, signs, and mails in the ballot. 


As of May 8, 2020, Maryland no longer uses the term Absentee Voting and instead uses the phrases “Mail-in Voting” and “Mail-in Ballots.”  To submit a request for a Mail-in Ballot, visit: You will have the option to choose to have a paper ballot mailed to you or the link to an electronic ballot emailed to you.  You will need to know the number on your Maryland State ID to request a Mail-in Ballot.


NFBMD urges everyone eligible to vote to do so.  Individuals not yet registered to vote may do so online by visiting:  Early voting runs from October 26 through November 2, 2020. 


Blind Cruising 2021

The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland will be hosting a cruise fundraiser from September 19, 2021 to September 26, 2021.   The affiliate will receive a portion of the cost of each cabin that is booked.  All are welcome, including members of the NFBMD, other affiliates, families, colleagues, and friends.  For additional information or to reserve your cabin, please contact our travel agent, Cindy Kiper at or 813-418-0647 or visit .


Details are as follows:

Ship: Carnival Pride

Date: September 19 – September 26, 2021

Port of Departure: Baltimore, Maryland

Number of nights: 7

Ports visited: Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos; Half Moon Cay, Bahamas; and Freeport, Bahamas


Key Dates:

-              First deposit due: Until All Cabins Booked or December 31, 2020 (whichever is earlier) = $25 per person

-              Second deposit due: April 15, 2021 - $250 per person plus full names of sailors

-              Final payment due: June 1, 2021


Types and prices of cabins (this is a per person price based on double occupancy and includes cabin fee, port charges, and taxes); we have a limited number of cabins, so prices may change once our block is filled.

-              Balcony cabin (extended balcony) = $958.64 per person

-              Balcony cabin (standard balcony) = from $935.64 to $946.64 per person

-              interior cabin = From $727.64 to $737.64 per person

-              if anyone needs an Ocean View or triple or quad cabin, they should let us know.

Note: Cabin types are going first come first serve, so please email to inquire about availability.


We hope you will join us in 2021 on this incredible trip.


NFBMD Fall Donation Drive – Win a Free Cruise!

The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland is holding a Fall donation drive to support our work. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have had to significantly increase our resources with regard to advocacy, education, and outreach related to teleschooling, access to information, access to transportation, telehealth, and other areas impacting the blind.


Between September 19 and 26, 2021, NFBMD will be hosting Blind Cruising 2021, which is a 7-night cruise on the Carnival Pride to the Eastern Caribbean. Individuals may book passage directly with our travel agent, with a portion of cabin costs going to NFBMD. Those interested may find information at


Additionally, we will hold a cruise drawing at the NFBMD Convention Banquet on November 7, 2020. The winner will receive a balcony cabin for two on the Carnival Pride for the sailing scheduled to depart Baltimore from September 19 - 26, 2021, which is the sailing where Blind Cruising 2021 will take place.


The rules for the drawing are as follows:

1. For each $10 donated, the donor will receive one chance. For example, if the donor contributes $100, that equates to 10 chances.

2. The donor must expressly state that he/she wishes to have his/her name placed in the cruise drawing.

3. Donations must be made separately from any door prize contributions, convention registration donations, or COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund donations.

4. Donations must be received on or before November 1, 2020.


Individuals may make donations using the PayPal button located at or by mailing checks to:

National Federation of the Blind of Maryland

Fall Donation Drive

1800 Johnson Street, Suite N1

Baltimore, MD 21230


If you have questions, please contact me at or at 443-426-4110. 


Important Upcoming Dates

  • October 1, 2020 – Meet the Blind Month
  • October 3, 2020 – Muggle Month on Magical Main Kick-off Celebration, Maryland Parents of Blind Children and Central Maryland Chapter Meet the Blind Month Event, Zoom and Old Ellicott City, Maryland
  • October 16, 2020 – NFBMD Virtual Night at the Theater, NFBMD Meet the Blind Month Event and Fundraiser, Everywhere
  • October 24, 2020 – Jamming with the At-Large Chapter, Zoom Meet the Blind Month Event
  • November 6-8, 2020 – Annual State Convention, Everywhere
  • January 21, 2021 – NFBMD Day in Annapolis
  • February 6, 2021 – Regional Braille Challenge, Maryland School for the Blind
  • February 8, 2021 – Washington Seminar Great Gathering In
  • February 9, 2021 – Maryland Day on the Hill
  • March 12, 2021 – Basket and Bag Bingo, Catonsville, Maryland
  • July 6 – 11, 2021 – NFB National Convention, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • August 7, 2021 – NFBMD Crab Feast, Parkville, Maryland

September 19 – 26, 2021 – Blind Cruising 2021, Carnival Pride, Departing from Port of Baltimore