November 2021 Minute Message

Fellow Federationists:


We have demonstrated that we will “Focus Forward” as Federationists at our 55th 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 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 PAC Registration Tables, to managing door prizes and the auction, to participating in Picnic and a Play and Crab Idol, and on and on and on.  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, in the coming weeks, to find the 2021 resolutions and some key highlights such as our reader panel, our Paralympic presentation, and many other important moments you’ll want to revisit. 


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


Feedback Needed on NFB Draft Code of Conduct

the National Federation of the Blind is seeking feedback on the most recent iteration of the NFB Code of Conduct. The comment period will conclude at noon eastern time on Thursday, December 2, 2021 with an anticipated go-live date for the revised Code of Conduct on January 1, 2022.  To review the draft Code and for instructions on providing feedback, please visit:


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 2021-2022. The contest will run from December 1, 2021 through January 21, 2022.  This year, the program has been refreshed based on participant feedback.


This year, registration and tracking will be handled through Beanstack, which is a platform and mobile application many libraries and schools use.  In addition, readers will report number of minutes read rather than number of pages.  Of course, those who cannot use Beanstack can contact the American Action Fund directly at 410-659-9315 or via email at


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 21. An adult category allows adults who want to practice their Braille skills to participate as well. Registration began on November 17, and it will remain open until the final day of the reading period.  Each participant who registers and logs reading time will receive a t-shirt.  Additional prizes and badges will be awarded for meeting certain milestones.  The top individuals in each category will receive a cash prize.  Beanstack allows participants to view their progress and that of others in the same reading group via a leader board.


You can find the link to the Beanstack registration form at Contest rules, deadlines, and other information is available at 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, 2022, and the deadline to apply for an NFBMD Scholarship is April 15, 2022.


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, 2022.
  • 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 2022 (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 5 through 10, 2022 (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, 2022.
  • To be eligible, applicants must:
    • Be legally blind in both eyes;
    • reside in 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 2022 and Spring of 2023 (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 5 through 10, 2022 and the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland in Towson, Maryland from November 1113, 2022 (scholarship finalists will receive convention financial assistance).
  • To apply:


Seeking Web and Technology Assistance

The NFB of Maryland is seeking assistance with our web and technology efforts.  We are specifically looking for individuals in the following areas:

  • Managing and updating web content – we use Drupal
  • Managing, entering data, and pulling reports using our contact database – this is a civicrm database
  • Hosting meetings and events via Zoom
  • Providing technical guidance concerning assistive technology and accessible applications (we sometimes need someone with this expertise in our advocacy work to help us guide school districts, legislators, employers, etc. as we work with members)
  • Sound editing (this primarily involves recording, cleaning up, adding sound effects, extracting certain parts, etc. of audio recordings)


If you have any of the above skills and are looking for a way to help the NFB of Maryland, please contact Web and Technology Committee Chairperson John Berggren at and me at


NFBMD Committees: Are You Interested?

We are beginning to decide 2022 committee appointments for the NFB of Maryland.  If you are interested in being appointed to a particular committee, please send me an email with the name of the committee or committees for which you are interested.  I can’t promise everyone will be appointed to the committees they request, but it is very helpful to know where people are interested in contributing most.  Please send your interest email to me at by December 9, 2021. 


If there are committees that you think should be added, please also let me know.


Below is a list of the 2022 committees as they currently stand.  The individuals listed below have been asked to chair these committees, but this may change when final appointments are sent out.


Advocacy Committee

Sharon Maneki, chairperson

*Seeking a co-chair

Advocates with employers, schools, Vocational Rehabilitation entities, and other public or private agencies for blind residents of Maryland


Ambassadors Committee

Judy Rasmussen and Debbie Brown, co-chairpersons

responsible for orienting first-time attendees to state and national Convention and mentoring first-timers at those events


Audit Committee

Barry Hond, chairperson

responsible for auditing financial accounts and spending for the affiliate


BELL Committee

Brittany Bomboy, chairperson

plans and administers the Maryland Bell program and incorporating Bell into NFBMD conventions and seminars


Braille Spectator Committee

Ronza Othman and Sharon Maneki, editors

Responsible for sourcing and creating content, assembling, editing, formatting, and disseminating the semi-annual magazine of the NFB of Maryland


Deaf-Blind and Hearing Loss Issues Committee

Janice Toothman, chairperson

*Seeking a co-Chairperson

works on issues of concern and interest to the deaf-blind of Maryland


Development and Fundraising Committee

Jenivieve White, chairperson

*Seeking a co-chairperson

coordinates long-term and short-term fundraising initiatives including: preparing and submitting grant proposals; sending out annual appeal letters;  working with estate attorneys; administering Spring and Fall raffles; marketing Amazon smile; planning Basket Bingo, Crab Feast, and other fundraisers


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

Qualik Ford and Bill Borner, co-chairpersons

Provides leadership and guidance to the affiliate and chapters and divisions on matters related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 


Employment Committee

Pam Goodman and Jannis Forbes, co-chairpersons

Provides guidance and support related to strategies for increasing the employment of Maryland’s blind.


Guide Dog Issues Committee

Sherri Shirek and Janice Toothman, co-chairpersons

works on issues of concern and interest to guide dog users in Maryland


Legislation Committee

Sharon Maneki and Garrett Mooney, co-chairpersons

responsible for State and Federal legislative action and educating elected officials on issues of importance to the blind of Maryland


Membership Committee

Dezman Jackson, chairperson

responsible for helping chapters and divisions with recruitment, retention, and development of members


PAC Plan Committee

John Paré and Stephanie Flynt, co-chairpersons

Coordinate the Maryland Pre-Authorized Check (PAC) efforts.


Public Relations Committee

Chris Danielsen, chairperson

responsible for marketing NFBMD programs and initiatives


Resolutions Committee

Chris Danielsen, chairperson

responsible for recommending (or not) that resolutions submitted by members be brought to the NFBMD Convention floor


Scholarship Committee

Mildred Rivera, chairperson

responsible for administering the John T. McCraw Scholarship Program, including mentoring candidates at national and state conventions and beyond


Sharon Maneki Youth Empowerment Grant Committee

Sharon Maneki, chairperson

responsible for reviewing and approving (or not) grant applications for youth to attend blindness programs and training or to receive technology


Social Media Committee

Karen Anderson, chairperson

responsible for NFBMD’s social media presence, communication, and outreach using forums like Twitter and Facebook


Sports and Recreation Committee

Qualik Ford, chairperson

*Looking for a co-chairperson

responsible for coordinating sports and rec activities for the affiliate.


Website and Technology Committee

John Berggren, chairperson

responsible for content and formatting, NFBMD databases, AV/IT at conventions, seminars, and other events, and other technology necessary for the operations of the NFB of Maryland


Youth Activity Committee

Brittany Bomboy, chairperson

responsible for engaging youth and planning youth-focused programs


Convention-Related Committees

Anna Freysz Cable Award Committee

Debbie Brown, chairperson

administers award program for an adult who has demonstrated exceptional effort in learning blindness skills, which is given at the NFBMD Convention


Convention Child Care Committee

Brittany Bomboy, chairperson

coordinates childcare at the NFBMD Convention


Convention Organization and Activities

Meleah Jensen, chairperson

*Seeking a co-chairperson

coordinates the NFBMD Convention, including planning and logistics


Convention Registration Committee

Marie Marucci, chairperson

Coordinates and oversees convention registration.


Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award Committee

Teresa Graham, chairperson

administers award to an exceptional teacher of the blind in Maryland; awarded at the NFBMD Convention


Door Prize Committee

Juhi Narula and Qualik Ford, co-chairpersons

coordinates and runs NFBMD Convention door prize activities


Gold Cup Crab Race Committee

Rose Warner, chairperson

Administers Gold Crab Race Fundraiser at state convention


Jennifer Baker Award Committee

Melissa Riccobono, chairperson

administers award program for a child who has overcome significant challenges to learn blindness skills; administered at the NFBMD Convention


Kenneth Jernigan Award Committee

Mary Ellen Jernigan, chairperson

administers award program for a Federationist who has demonstrated exceptional and sustained service and commitment to the NFB of Maryland; awarded at the NFBMD Convention


National Funding Support Auction Committee

Michael Bullis, chairperson

Administers the NFB of Maryland Bake and Experience Auction at the state convention.


Nominating Committee

TBD, chairperson

responsible for recommending to the NFBMD Convention individuals for open Board seats

Pay Your 2022 Dues by January 1!

In light of the pandemic and the suspension of in-person chapter meetings, NFBMD maintains an online portal for individuals to pay their chapter and division dues.  We are asking members to pay their 2022 dues by January 1, 2022 if possible so we can ensure that our rolls are accurate for the annual national membership data call in February. 


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.


Get ready for New Orleans in 2022!

The NFB 2022 National Convention will take place from July 5 – 10, 2022 in New Orleans Louisiana.  We are very excited to pass the convention hosting torch to Louisiana.  The convention will take place at the New Orleans Marriott, and additional information will be available in the new year.  We anticipate individuals can make their lodging reservations in January and that pre-registration will be open between March 1 and May 31, 2022.  However, those dates are approximate and tentative.


First time national convention attendees may apply for the Kenneth Jernigan Scholarship.  Information about this grant will be available in January 2022 with an anticipated application deadline of March 31, 2022.


Those from Maryland who are seeking financial assistance should speak with their chapter president to find out what assistance their local chapter may have available.  The affiliate’s Financial Assistance Application Form is now live and must be submitted by March 31, 2022.  It can be found at  Please note that though the Financial Assistance Committee will give due consideration to every application, the affiliate has limited resources and is unable to grant every request.  For questions about the Financial Assistance Application Program, please reach out to your chapter president or President Ronza Othman at


Update on Walmart Lawsuit

In 2018, the National Federation of the Blind, the NFB of Maryland, and three blind members, Cindy Morales, Linwood Boyd, and Melissa Sheeder, filed suit in Federal Court against Walmart.  The suit asserts that Walmart violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it deployed inaccessible check-out kiosks.  Unfortunately, the judge assigned the case found in favor of Walmart in September 2021.  However, the NFB believes this opinion was incorrect and inconsistent with the law.  As a result, we have filed an appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. 


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 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.  Qualik Ford and Bill Borner co-chair this committee.  We encourage those interested in joining the committee to reach out to me at


The Committee provides state-wide guidance and support to chapters and the affiliate on DEI.  One goal for 2022 is to increase the presence of DEI in our activities and to hold more DEI-focused activities.  The Committee plans to send out informational communications on certain topics and observances to promote DEI but needs assistance in this area from those with lived experience and/or expertise.  One particular highlight will be a day-long training for all elected affiliate, chapter, and division board members, the DEI committee, the scholarship committee, the membership committee, and those working with children.  This training will take place on March 5, 2022 and will feature an introduction to diversity, equity, and inclusion; recognizing and minimizing micro-aggressions; and understanding and combatting implicit bias. 


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.


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 Stay-at-Home orders.  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

  • December 1, 2021 – NFB and NFBMD Scholarship Applications Open
  • January 14, 2022 – NFB and NFBMD COVID-19 Booster Clinic, 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 5, 2022 – DEI Training for Affiliate Leaders (chapter and division boards; affiliate board; scholarship, DEI, and Membership committees; those working with youth), virtual
  • March 11, 2022 – Basket and Bag Bingo, Catonsville, Maryland
  • July 5 – 10, 2022 – NFB National Convention, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • July 25 – August 5, 2022 – NFB BELL Academy, Baltimore, Maryland*
  • August 6, 2022 – NFBMD Crab Feast, Parkville, Maryland
  • October 1 – 31, 2022 – Blind Equality Achievement Month
  • November 11 – 13, 2022 – NFBMD Annual Convention, Towson, Maryland


*We are still determining dates and locations of other Maryland NFB BELL Academies.