November 2020 Minute Message

Fellow Federationists:


We have demonstrated that to “rise up” is in our blood as Federationists at our 54th Annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland.  I am immensely grateful to each of you who played a role, from running a workshop or seminar, to organizing a tour, to coordinating the Exhibit Hall and soliciting sponsors, to providing door prizes and auction items, to running sound and streaming, hosting Zoom sessions, and engaging social media, to staffing the virtual PAC and Information Tables, to managing door prizes and the auction, and on and on and on.  It is a happy coincidence that our logistics team had 54 members this year, and each of them was spectacular.  you can see, it takes a myriad of people to put on a convention, especially one as big and energetic as ours.  Please visit our website,, to find the 2020 resolutions, our amended Constitution, and some key highlights such as our Virtual Learning Panel, our Entrepreneurs Panel, our BELL celebration, and many other important moments you’ll want to revisit. 


Please read below for information about important happenings around the affiliate. 


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.


Adult and children Participants Needed for National Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest

The National Federation of the Blind is partnering with the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults to present Braille Readers Are Leaders 2020-2021. Braille readers in grades K-12 compete with others in their grade category to read the most pages during the reading period from December 1 to January 18. An adult category allows adults who want to practice their Braille skills to participate as well. Registration began on November 1, and it will remain open until the final day of the reading period. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top readers in each category, and each participant will receive a packet of Braille-related gifts.

You can find the registration form, reading log form, and contest rules by visiting If you have questions, email or call 410-659-9315.


NFB and NFBMD Scholarship Programs

The National Federation of the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland each administer a separate scholarship program for post-secondary students.  The deadline to apply for an NFB scholarship is March 31, 2021, and the deadline to apply for an NFBMD Scholarship is April 15, 2021.


National Scholarship Program: Each year, the NFB awards 30 merit-based scholarships totaling at least $120,000. 

  • Scholarships range in amount from $3,000 to $12,000.
  • Scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement, leadership, and community service.
  • The 30 scholarship finalists are announced in the spring and attend the National Convention, where they are awarded a specific scholarship.
  • Application materials must be submitted (online or postmarked) by 11:59PM on March 31, 2021.
  • To be eligible, applicants must:
    • Be legally blind in both eyes;
    • Reside in the United States, the District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico;
    • Be pursuing or planning to pursue a full-time, post-secondary course of study in a degree program at a U.S. institution in the Fall of 2020 (one scholarship may be awarded to an individual who works full-time and attends school part-time); and
    • Attend the entire National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind (and all scholarship activities) in New Orleans, Louisiana from July 6 through 11, 2021 (scholarship finalists will receive convention assistance).
  • To apply:


State Scholarship Program: Each year, the NFB of Maryland awards the John T. McCraw Scholarship to up to four students with a combined maximum total of $10,000.  Though the Scholarship Committee will determine the amount awarded to each individual scholarship finalist, the minimum amount per scholarship is $2,000 and the maximum amount is $3,500.  NFBMD may award a scholarship to a former McCraw scholarship recipient. 

  • Scholarships are merit-based and awarded based on academic achievement, community involvement, and leadership.
  • Application materials must be submitted (online or postmarked) by 11:59PM on April 15, 2021.
  • 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 or part-time, post-secondary course of study in a degree program in the Fall of 2021 and Spring of 2022 (priority will be given to full-time students); and
    • Attend the entire National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind in New Orleans, Louisiana from July 6 through 11, 2021 and the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland in Baltimore, Maryland from November 1214, 2021 (scholarship finalists will receive convention financial assistance).
  • To apply:


do You Feel Lucky?

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. Between now and January 31, you may request a specific number from Melissa Riccobono and pay the $5. You might want to request your birthday, your anniversary, or some other significant number. After January 31, tickets will be available from chapter presidents and you will not necessarily be able to get the specific number you want. If you want to buy or sell tickets, please contact Melissa Riccobono at Help us sell all 1,000 tickets to win prizes!  Provided we sell all 1,000 tickets, we will enter the individuals who sell winning tickets into a drawing for a cash prize.  We will also award prizes to those who sell the most tickets, provided we sell our entire stock of tickets. 


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


Seeking Voting Experiences

We are seeking information about your experience voting in the National Election on November 3, 2020 and in early voting.  We are particularly interested in in-person voting.  Please answer the following questions by December 15, 2020 and send an email to Ronza Othman at  Alternatively, call 443-426-4110 to share your in person voting experience.

  • what polling place did you use to vote?
  • What time of day did you vote?
  • Were you neutrally presented with the option to vote by ballot marking device (BMD) or paper ballot?
  • If you requested to use the BMD, was it set up and working?
    • If not, what was the problem?
    • How long did it take to resolve?
  • If you requested to use the BMD, was the poll worker able to explain to you how to use the BMD?
  • How many BMDs were there at your polling location?
  • Was there a line to use the BMD(s)?
    • If so, was it longer than any line for the hand marked paper ballots?
  • How long did the entire voting process take you?
  • Is there anything else we should know about your voting experience?


Washington Seminar and NFBMD Day in Annapolis Go Virtual

As a result of the restrictions imposed by the Federal and State legislatures in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Washington Seminar and NFBMD Day in Annapolis will be held virtually.  We are beginning to prepare for both legislative advocacy efforts, and we believe that virtual legislative advocacy creates unique and new opportunities to educate our state and Federal representatives. 


Washington Seminar: The Great Gathering In will take place virtually on February 8, 2021.  Rather than having a single Day on the Hill for Maryland, we will have a Week on the Hill from February 9 through 11.  We hope to have constituent participation from each Congressional district as we meet with the respective representatives. 


Week In Annapolis: Rather than having a single day where we meet with all 47 state senators and 141 delegates, we will hold the NFBMD Week in Annapolis from January 25 – 29, 2021.  We hope to have constituents present from each district when we meet with the respective delegates and senators.


We will share more information in the coming weeks.


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Since this is the season of gift giving, be sure

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Important Upcoming Dates

  • January 25 - 29, 2021 – NFBMD Week in Annapolis
  • February 6, 2021 – Regional Braille Challenge, Maryland School for the Blind
  • February 8, 2021 – Washington Seminar Great Gathering In
  • February 9 - 11, 2021 – Maryland Week 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
  • November 12 – 14, 2021 – NFB of Maryland 55th Annual Convention, Baltimore, Maryland