July 2022 Minute Message


Fellow Federationists:


We’ve just returned from our first in    person national convention since the pandemic began, and New Orleans didn’t disappoint.  We had over 60 first-time convention attendees.  We are also two-thirds of the way through our NFB BELL In Home Academy and halfway through our Maryland NFB BELL Academy, taking place in Baltimore.  The other volunteers and I have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with our kiddos as they explore Braille, cane travel, independent living skills, and other blindness techniques; we all agree though that the most important benefit of the NFB BELL Academy is the positive role models with which our students interact and form life-long relationships.


We also just wound down our second week-long orientation and mobility intensive training for our Narrowing the Gap participants.  These teachers are working towards receiving certification as Teachers of Blind Students.  Through a partnership between NFB, NFBMD, the Maryland State Department of Education, and Louisiana Tech University, the Narrowing the Gap program participants will receive tuition forgiveness in exchange for a multi-year commitment to teach blind students in Maryland.  Through this program, we are narrowing the gap between the number and quality of teachers of blind students we need in Maryland and the critical shortage we find we are experiencing.


As we wind down the summer, we are as busy as ever in the Maryland affiliate.  In the coming weeks, we will host our annual Crab Feast, cohost the NABS Mid-Atlantic Student Seminar, host the third offering of our advocacy seminar, hold programs for our Sports and Rec Committee, Parents Division, Student Division, Merchants Division, and Seniors Division, and host a number of chapter outings.  We are also eagerly preparing for our 56th annual state convention.  Please read below for more information about our programs and activities.


Get ready for Houston in 2023!

At the national board of directors meeting at the 2022 NFB National Convention, it was confirmed that the 2023 National Convention will take place from July 1 – 6, 2023 in Houston, Texas. Start planning so that you can attend the 2023 convention.


Crabbing for Student Scholarships

You may still purchase your tickets online 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: Friday, August 5, 2022 - 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

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

Tickets are $70. 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 https://www.nfbmd.org/crabs

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


Attend the NFBMD Board of Directors Meeting and Convention Planning Retreat

Everyone is invited to attend the NFB of Maryland Board of Directors meeting on Saturday, August 27, 2022 to help us plan the state convention.  At this time, we plan to meet in person and are not able to offer a hybrid option.  We will be meeting at the Convention Hotel, the Sheraton Baltimore North Hotel, located at 903 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson.  The meeting will begin at 9:00 and end at 4:00.  Lunch will be available for purchase.  To RSVP, please contact me at (443) 426-4110 or President@nfbmd.org.  Individuals who plan to attend should let me know by August 14, 2022; they should advise whether they intend to purchase lunch, whether they have any dietary restrictions, and whether they need any reasonable accommodations to participate.


Reconnect, Reimagine, Reignite: The State Convention is Coming!

You will not want to miss the state convention at the Sheraton Baltimore North Hotel in Towson which takes place on November 11 - 13, 2022.  You may reserve your room by calling the Sheraton Baltimore North at 410-321-7400.  Convention Room Rates:  Standard Room - $95 per night. Tax on sleeping rooms is 17.5%.  These room rates start on Thursday, November 10, 2022.  The deadline for making room reservations is October 15, 2022. 


Be looking in your mailbox and on the websitewww.nfbmd.org for the preregistration forms.  They will be available soon.  Below are the prices for the various convention activities (prices are per person unless otherwise stated):

  • Pre-registration = $20 until October 15, 2022; $25 on-site
  • Banquet ticket = $50 until October 15, 2022; $55 on-site
  • Parent, Senior, or Student Luncheon ticket = $25 until October 15, 2022; $30 on-site
  • Friday boxed lunch = $18 until October 15, 2022; $20 on-site
  • Dinner & a Play tickets = $18 until October 15, 2022; $20 on-site
  • Transportation from New Carrollton Train Station = $35 until October 15, 2022; this covers round-trip travel
  • Childcare = TBD 

Financial Assistance Application for State Convention – Due September 15, 2022!

Individuals who wish to request financial assistance to attend the 2022 NFB of Maryland State Convention must complete and submit a Financial Assistance Application Form no later than September 15, 2022.  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 https://nfbmd.org/financialassistance.  For questions, please contact me at 443-426-4110 or at President@nfbmd.org.


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 cdanielsen@nfb.org by October 15, 2022.


Seeking Convention Sponsors and Exhibitors

We are seeking sponsors for our 2022 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 President@nfbmd.org or Jen White at Jwhite@nfb.org to request additional information.  Sponsorship forms and additional information may also be found at https://nfbmd.org/convention.


We are also seeking exhibitors for our Friday Exhibit Hall.  Individuals and entities interested in exhibiting should also contact me at President@nfbmd.org or Jen White at Jwhite@nfb.org to request additional information.  Exhibitor forms are available for download at https://nfbmd.org/convention


The sponsorship and exhibitor deadlines are September 15, 2022.


Pay Your 2022 Dues As Soon As Possible!!

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 as soon as possible so we can ensure that our rolls are accurate for the annual national membership data call. 


Individuals may use NFBMD’s Dues Portal to pay their 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 http://nfbmd.org/dues.  Alternatively, individuals may mail a check to their chapter or division treasurer.


Reminder of NFBMD Policy on In-Person Gatherings

As the affiliate, chapters, and divisions resume and/or increase in-person activities such as fundraisers, chapter meetings, and seminars, please remember that the NFB of Maryland Board of Directors adopted a Policy on In-Person Gatherings, which is applicable to all events and activities.  The Board last updated this policy on May 27, 2022.  You can review the policy by visiting: https://nfbmd.org/eventpolicy


Membership Efforts

One key priority in 2022 is for NFBMD to conduct a robust membership building effort.  This is based on the needs and desires of several chapters within Maryland.  The Board of Directors voted in January to reorganize the Baltimore County Chapter; in addition, the Western Maryland Chapter reorganized in mid-2021 and is working to expand its size and presence.  The Eastern Shore Chapter has determined that it too needs to expand its prominence, size, and presence.  The Greater Baltimore Chapter has determined there are many blind and low vision people in the local area to whom it wishes to reach out.  The TLC Chapter has decided it too is committed to continuing to grow.  Every chapter and division in Maryland expressed a desire and commitment to recruiting, developing, and retaining members.


As a result, our Membership Committee, led by Dezman Jackson, will be working on various membership initiatives in 2022, including a membership fair in the Baltimore area on September 9, 2022.  We need your help!  If you know of blind and low vision Marylanders who are not yet members of the Federation, please introduce them to their local chapter.  Please share ideas with Dezman and me as to how we can connect with people who are not yet members or how to reconnect with those whose membership has lapsed.  Please invite those individuals to share with you, with Dezman, and with me, what they would want to get from membership in the Federation and any barriers to joining.  Please let Dezman and me know if you are interested in supporting the Membership Committee with recruitment and retention initiatives.  Membership building is truly the responsibility of each of us, and we need your help!


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 Juhi Narula co-chair this committee.  We encourage those interested in joining the committee to reach out to me at President@nfbmd.org.


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 has and will continue to share 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 was 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 occurred on March 5, 2022 and featured 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 President@nfbmd.org or at 443-426-4110.


NFBMD Advocacy Skills Training Sessions

Would you like to brush up on  your advocacy skills for yourself and others? Save the dates: August 20, September 17,  and October 1.  We will explore a different advocacy issue each of these days.  The trainings will take place on these Saturday afternoons, from 1:30 to 5:00, over zoom. 


August 20: How to Get Your Dream Job and Keep It

This advocacy workshop will review how to work with DORS to get what you need for successful employment. We will also talk about how to get reasonable accommodations, keep your job if you feel you are being discriminated against, and more.


September 17: Practicing IEP Skills

In this workshop, we will practice some of the skills that we learned at the May 21 workshop. Through role playing, we will create opportunities to make a better IEP.


October 1: The Top Social Security Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

In this workshop, we will talk about Social Security pitfalls and the opportunities and benefits that Social Security provides.


All workshops are from 1:30 to 5 PM. Please register for the specific sessions you plan to attend by sending an email to nfbmdsm@gmail.com.


Important Upcoming Dates

  • August 5, 2022 – NFBMD Crab Feast, Parkville, Maryland
  • August 12 – 14, 2022 – NABS Mid-Atlantic Student Seminar, Hunt Valley, Maryland
  • August 20, 2022 - Advocacy Seminar Part 3, Virtual
  • August 27, 2022 – Board Meeting and State Convention Planning Retreat, Towson, Maryland
  • September 9, 2022 – NFBMD Membership Fair, Baltimore, Maryland
  • September 15, 2022 – Deadline to Submit Financial Assistance Application for NFBMD State Convention
  • September 15, 2022 – Deadline to reserve Exhibit Table for NFBMD State Convention
  • September 17, 2022 - Advocacy Seminar Part 4, Virtual
  • October 1 – 31, 2022 – Blind Equality Achievement Month
  • October 1, 2022 - Advocacy Seminar Part 5, Virtual
  • October 15, 2022 – Deadline to make hotel reservations for the NFBMD 2022 State Convention
  • October 15, 2022 – Deadline to pre-register for the 2022 NFBMD State Convention
  • October 15, 2022 – Deadline to submit resolutions for the 2022 NFBMD State Convention
  • November 11 – 13, 2022 – NFBMD Annual Convention, Towson, Maryland
  • January 26, 2023 – NFBMD Day in Annapolis, Annapolis, Maryland
  • January 30, 2023 – Great Gathering In, Washington, DC
  • July 1 – 6, 2023 – NFB National Convention, Houston, Texas
  • December 3 – 10, 2023 – NFBMD Blind Cruising 2023, Bahamas