September 2021 Minute Message

Fellow Federationists:


As summer comes to a close, we remain as busy as ever helping blind people live the lives we want.  As the school year begins, we have been working hard to ensure that students have access to information, materials, and the curriculum.  We have fought for improved paratransit services in a time of unprecedented disfunction.  We have begun resuming in person activities such as picnics, fundraisers, and gatherings where we can ensure safety and inclusion.  We just returned from the first ever NFB of Maryland Cruise Fundraiser, where we had an amazing time.  We have begun Blind Equality Achievement Month (rebranded from Meet the Blind Month) with a bang with our annual Wizarding World on Main in Old Ellicott City, and we have other fun and engaging activities planned throughout the state.  And of course, we are preparing for our annual convention.  These are just a few of the things we’ve been up to in the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland.  Read on for important information and announcements.


Focus Forward: The State Convention is Almost Here – Deadline to Make Room Reservations & Preregister is October 15, 2021!

You will not want to miss the in-person state convention at the Holiday Inn Downtown Baltimore Inner Harbor in Baltimore which takes place on November 12-14, 2021.  This year, our National Representative will be Julie Deden, Executive Director of the Colorado Center for the Blind.  You may reserve your room by calling the Holiday Inn at 410-347-5707.  Convention Room Rates:  Standard Room - $94 per night. Tax on sleeping rooms is 17.5%.  These room rates start on Thursday, November 11, 2021.  The deadline for making room reservations is October 15, 2021. 


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 15, 2021; $25 on-site
  • Banquet ticket = $40 until October 15, 2021; $45 on-site
  • Parent or Senior Luncheon ticket = $22 until October 15, 2021; $25 on-site
  • Friday boxed lunch = $16 until October 15, 2021; $20 on-site
  • Picnic & a Play tickets = $18 until October 15, 2021; $20 on-site
  • Transportation from New Carrollton Train Station = $35 until October 15, 2021; this covers round-trip travel
  • Childcare = $30 per child and $50 per family for the entire weekend  


Please plan to join us at the Holiday Inn for what promises to be our best convention so far!


Financial Assistance Application for State Convention – Final Call!

Individuals who wish to request financial assistance to attend the 2021 NFB of Maryland State Convention must complete and submit a Financial Assistance Application Form no later than October 4, 2021.  Note, this deadline was extended from September 30, 2021.  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 Chairperson Chris Danielsen by email at by October 15, 2021.


Seeking Convention Sponsors and Exhibitors

We are seeking sponsors for our 2021 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.  Sponsorship forms and additional information may also be found at


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.  Exhibitor forms are available for download at


The sponsorship and exhibitor deadline is October 5, 2021.


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.  For questions, please contact Door Prize Co-chairs Qualik Ford at and Erin Daring at  Please bring door prizes to the convention.


Seeking Donations for the NFBMD Bake and Experience Auction!

We are seeking donations of baked goods and experiences for the NFBMD auction.  Some examples of experiences include taking the winner to dinner, giving cooking lessons, etc.  We are asking for donation commitments prior to October 31, 2021.  Please notify Convention Logistics Chairperson Meleah Jensen of your donation via email at or by phone at 504-621-4162.


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

The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland is seeking nominations for the 2021 Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award. Please tell us how your child’s teacher, administrator, or school counselor works to help their 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 state convention Banquet on November 13, 2021.  Nominations are due by October 8, 2021. 


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 11, 2021.  Individuals must submit their application to NFBMD Advisor to the President Ellen Ringlein via email at  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


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 12-14. The final decision on the winner will be made by the Turner family.
  • Applications will be accepted from September 1, 2021 through October 11, 2021.
  • The winner will be notified by October 31.  The $200 award will be presented November 7 at the NFBMD convention banquet.
  • Please send your application to



Pay Your 2021 Dues to be Eligible to Vote at the NFBMD State Convention – Deadline October 31, 2021

Those wishing to vote at the NFB of Maryland State Convention must pay their 2021 chapter or division dues prior to October 31, 2021.  Individuals may use NFBMD’s Dues Portal to pay their 2021 annual dues, 2022 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.


Update on Voting Lawsuit

In August 2019, 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 claimed this violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act and that the Board of Elections’ actions are discriminatory based on disability.  In August, NFB, NFB of Maryland, and the individual plaintiffs reached a settlement with the Maryland State Board of Elections.  The terms included adding an additional Ballot Marking Device (BMD) in the polling places of the individual plaintiffs, more robust training on the use of BMDs, training poll workers on the requirement to have at least 10 individuals use the BMD in each polling location, including criteria when the next BMDs are leased or purchased that those devices produce a ballot that is substantially similar in size, shape, and appearance to the hand-marked ballot, and $230,000 in attorney’s fees.  Though this is a step towards desegregating voting in Maryland, we believe there is significant work to do to ensure that blind Marylanders can vote privately, independently, and without discrimination.  We will continue to advocate in this area in the coming months and years.


NFBMD Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives

NFBMD is actively working to expand our knowledge of and emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.  These initiatives also include those related to sexual harassment and misconduct, consent, boundaries, and power dynamics.  It is our intent that NFB of Maryland activities, events, and programs be safe and welcoming to all, and to that end we are devoting resources and time to increase our awareness and enhance our strategies on DEI.  WE rolled out a training to all chapters in January and February on topics related to consent, boundaries and power dynamics.  Our affiliate Board of Directors participated in the NFB-sponsored training on sexual harassment and violence prevention, provided by the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN).  In June, we conducted Culture of Consent in the Blind Community training for all affiliate, chapter, and division board members as well as the Scholarship Committee, DEI Committee, and those who work with minors and hold trusted leadership positions in the affiliate.  This was approximately 110 people.  We also conducted some specific training for parents and young people on consent, boundaries, and power dynamics at the joint Parents and Students seminar in September.  Our state and chapter leaders will attend workshops on DEI, unconscious bias, and micro-aggressions in the Fall.  WE will engage in conversations on DEI and related topics and hold trainings during our State convention in November as well.  Our NFBMD DEI Committee, led by Anil Lewis, is engaged and working to promote the incorporation of DEI throughout our affiliate.  The Committee has sent out informational communications on certain topics and observances to promote DEI.  If you have questions about these initiatives or have suggestions for how we can best incorporate DEI into our programs, please don’t hesitate to contact me at or at 443-426-4110 or Chairperson Anil Lewis at




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, 1800 Johnson Street, Suite N1, Baltimore, Maryland 21230 or by using the PayPal donation link on our website located at


Important Upcoming Dates

  • October 1 – 31, 2021 – Blind Equality Achievement Month
  • October 15, 2021 - National White Cane Awareness Day.
  • November 12 – 14, 2021 – NFB of Maryland 55th Annual Convention, Baltimore, Maryland
  • January 20, 2022 - NFBMD Day in Annapolis, Annapolis, Maryland
  • February 7, 2022 – Great Gathering In, Washington, DC
  • February 8, 2022 – NFB of Maryland Day on the Hill, Washington, DC
  • March 11, 2022 – Basket and Bag Bingo, Catonsville, Maryland
  • July 5 – 10, 2022 – NFB National Convention, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • August 6, 2022 – NFBMD Crab Feast, Parkville, Maryland