March and April 2023 Minute Message


Fellow Federationists:


This has been an incredible couple of months in the NFB of Maryland.  We finished our state legislative session.  We held our Basket and Bag Bingo.  We had an in-person Board Meeting.  We held several seminars and events throughout the State.  We held Women’s History Month activities.  Our At Large Chapter held its movie night.  We worked on case advocacy related to IEPs and employment.  We marketed our scholarship programs – both national and state.  And we are busy getting ready for the NFB 2023 national convention.  That is just a snapshot of some of the initiatives on which we’ve been working.


The next few months promise to be just as busy.  Read on to learn about our current and upcoming initiatives.


Success in Annapolis!

Success!  This is what collective action looks like!


We were very successful in advancing our legislative priorities in Maryland.  The Maryland General Assembly:

  • Protected and maintained the $250,000 appropriation to the Center for Excellence in Nonvisual Access in the 2024 budget;
  • Passed SB 535 / HB 608, which expands protections in housing to include retired service animals, meaning those who use service animals no longer have to make the difficult decision to move, rehome their dogs, pay pet fees they can’t afford, or even euthanize their dogs when they retire simply because housing protections don’t apply to retired service animals;
  • Passed HB 456 / SB 940, which requires pharmacies to make available accessible prescription labels for blind, low vision, and print disabled patients, at no additional cost and at the same time as other patients; and
  • Ordered a summer study of electronic ballot return to assess the feasibility of implementing an electronic ballot return system in Maryland for voters with disabilities and military and overseas voters, which assesses not only security but civil rights, accessibility, privacy, independence, cost, and infrastructure needs.


We have also provided written testimony to another two dozen bills and signed on with the Maryland Cross Disability Coalition and the Maryland Education Advocacy Coalition to provide our support or opposition to another roughly forty bills.  For example:

  • We advocated to expand Baltimore City’s bus lane parking enforcement laws to the entire state so that those of us who rely on public transportation get to where we need to be on time without our buses being delayed due to drivers using the bus lane as a parking lane. 
  • We advocated to increase the funding to the Maryland Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) so that DORS can sufficiently staff up, eliminate the case backlog, and provide more support to clients; this bill also requires Maryland to meet the draw-down match from the Federal government, because Maryland leaves millions of dollars on the table every year. 
  • We advocated to ensure that curbside voting (ballots to be brought out to voters) be accessible. 
  • We successfully advocated to ensure that parents of children with disabilities get their expert costs reimbursed by the school districts when they have to engage them in litigation. 
  • We successfully worked to ensure that the noise abatement bill on vehicles adhered to the quiet car Federal minimum sound standard, so that though vehicle sounds can be reduced, they aren’t reduced so much that we can’t travel independently. 
  • We advocated to change Maryland law to ensure that those children who turn 21 in August don’t miss out on an entire school year simply because there is a loophole that exists in Maryland law that shuts these kids out of their final year of school. 
  • We successfully advocated in support of moving the State Autism Coordinator into the Department of Disabilities, as many of our members are also on the autism spectrum. 
  • We advocated for better accountability and funding for the Maryland Transit Administration and the Washington Area Transit Authority to improve fixed route and paratransit systems. 

These are just a handful of the matters we’ve worked on and will continue to advocate for in the coming months and years.


I want to thank each of you who attended a hearing, wrote a letter, made a phone call, met with a legislator, hosted a Zoom meeting, led a Week in Annapolis Team, wrote a social media post, and so much more.  Special thanks to Garret Mooney and Justin Young for monitoring all the bills in the General Assembly as they were introduced.  I am also grateful to our Annapolis reader / driver Linda Furiate who took our legislative leads to Annapolis roughly a dozen times this session.  Also thanks to our affiliate drivers, Alice Gosse, Jim Welkos, Jerry Lazarus, Holly Mooney, and Teresa Graham. 


Please send emails thanking our lead sponsors in the Maryland General Assembly – SB 535 (Service Animals and Housing) Senator Mary Dulaney James; HB 608 (Service Animals and Housing) Delegate Mary Lehman; HB 456 (Accessible Prescription Labels) Delegate Michele Guyton; and SB 940 (Accessible Prescription Labels) Senator Anthony Muse.


Finally, we are incredibly grateful to Sharon Maneki, our Director of Legislation and Advocacy for her leadership and training. 


Save the date of January 18, 2024 for our 2024 Day in Annapolis!


Are You Hungry? Poppin Popcorn Fundraiser!

The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland is hosting a fundraiser in conjunction with Poppin Popcorn where you can purchase popcorn, candy, and other snacks, and NFBMD will receive half of the sales.


It's so simple: Just go to the link below, buy delicious snacks, they'll show up to your house in a few days, and NFBMD gets part of what you paid to support our programs.


Please share this link and opportunity with your friends, neighbors, and strangers you randomly meet.


The fundraiser is open through April 21, 2023.


Visit this link to place your order:

NFBMD Poppin Popcorn Store


NFBMD Bid for Opportunity Dinner and Auction!

Get ready for a nice evening out. Join us on May 13 for our Bid-for-Opportunity dinner and auction to benefit the John T. McCraw Scholarship Program and NFBMD youth activities.  The dinner will be held from 5PM – 9PM at the College Park Knights of Columbus, 9450 Cherry Hill Road, College Park, MD 20740.  Tickets cost $50.  Dinner includes fried or basked chicken, grilled salmon, sweet potatoes, mac & cheese, peas and rice, salad, rolls, beverage, and dessert. 


There will be an auction for all tastes, including a $10 table.  Those wishing to donate items to the auction should contact Debbie Brown at 301-881-1892 or


Those who purchase tickets before May 6, 2023 will be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift card.


Those wanting transportation to reserve a seat on the van from the NFB (Baltimore) should contact me at by May 6, 2023.


To purchase tickets, send a check to NFB of Maryland, Debbie Brown’s attention, at 11923 Parklawn Drive, #104, Rockville, MD 20852 or pay online using the PayPal button at


NFB of Maryland STEM2U!

The NFB of Maryland will be hosting NFB STEM2U on Saturday, May 20, 2023 at the NFB in Baltimore.  The National Federation of the Blind works to improve opportunities for blind students in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. NFB STEM2U, brings nonvisually accessible STEM lessons and activities to blind youth. The theme this year is space! Students of varying ages across the country will receive instruction from NFB personnel, blind mentors, and expert instructors. 


This program is designed for blind and low-vision students in grades three to high school level who:

  • Are interested in STEM
  • Are unsure about STEM but interested in a fun program specific to blind students
  • Are in need of hands-on, nonvisual skills training opportunities from blind role models


Program participants may register by visiting


Those interested in volunteering should contact NFBMD Youth Coordinator Brittany Bomboy at or 757-969-3724.


Maryland Parents of Blind Children Seminar!

Please save the date of May 20, 2023 for a seminar for parents of blind children, hosted by the Maryland Organization of Parents of Blind Children.  This in-person seminar will take place in Baltimore at the NFB.  More information will be forthcoming.


Basket and Bag Bingo Success!

We want to thank everyone who attended NFB Basket and Bag Bingo on March 10, 2023.  Special thanks to all those who made donations for bags and baskets.  We are particularly grateful to our Central Maryland Chapter for its incredible work coordinating and hosting this event.


NFB BELL Academy Baltimore, NFB BELLX Salisbury, and NFB BELL In-Home Edition! 

The NFB BELL Academy provides children with Braille and nonvisual skills instruction through fun, hands-on learning activities.  The NFB BELL Academy—which stands for National Federation of the Blind Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning®—is a nationwide summer program that prepares blind and low-vision children to grow into confident and independent blind people who live the lives they want.  Activities at NFB Maryland BELL are provided in a day program. In addition to Braille crafts, games, and other engaging projects, children learn vital independent living skills, interact with blind adult mentors, and enjoy field trips to sites related to the NFB BELL Academy curriculum. Through these activities and interactions, the children learn that blindness or low vision does not define them or their future.


The NFB BELL Academy is appropriate for blind and low vision children ages four through twelve who:

  • Do not receive enough Braille and nonvisual skills instruction in school
  • Could benefit from more Braille exposure over the summer
  • Would enjoy connecting with blind role models


The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland is offering a two-week in person NFB BELL Academy session in Baltimore, Maryland, From August 7, 2023 – August 18, 2023.  We are also holding NFB BELLX, sponsored by Blind Industries and Services of Maryland, in Salisbury, from August 7 – 11, 2023 for older kids.  The National Federation of the Blind is also offering one three-week virtual program of the NFB BELL Academy In-Home Edition July 24 through August 11, 2023, for which options are available for beginner, intermediate, and advanced students. Space is limited.  We are also working out details for a potential NFB BELL program in St. Mary’s County. 


To register for NFB BELL Academy In Person in Baltimore, NFB BELLX in Salisbury, or NFB BELL In Home Edition, visit:  For questions, contact NFB of Maryland NFB BELL Academy Coordinator Brittany Bomboy at 757-969-3724 or by email at


Get ready for Houston in 2023!

The NFB 2023 National Convention will take place from July 1 – 6, 2023 in Houston, Texas.  The convention will take place at the Hilton Americas – Houston Hotel, and you may make your reservation by calling 1-800-236-2905.  The overflow hotel is the Marriott Marquis Houston.  To reserve a room at the overflow hotel, call 1-877-622-3056. The rooming rate is $119 per night plus tax at both hotels.  Preregistration for the convention will open on March 1 and will close May 31, 2023.  To preregister, go to  Preregistration is $25 and banquet tickets cost $70 each until May 31, 2023.  On-site registration will be available but will cost $30 per person with banquet tickets costing $75 each.


Come Sing and Play with the Baltimore County Chapter!

In the mood for some food, drinks, and fun? Want to sing songs from your favorite 90’s girl group? Then please join the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland’s Baltimore County Chapter at Greene Turtle Sports Bar and Grill in Owings Mills, Maryland on May 6, 2023 from 7:00-10:00 PM. Play some trivia, sing karaoke, win door prizes, and more! All proceeds benefit the NFB Baltimore County Chapter. You are responsible for the cost of your own food and beverages.  Tickets cost $10.  Please contact Chapter President Dezman Jackson  at for more information and how to purchase tickets.


In the mood for some food and drinks? Come support the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland’s Baltimore County Chapter on May 6, 2023 anytime during that day. The chapter will receive 20% of the proceeds if you mention the Baltimore County Chapter of the NFB.  Please contact Chapter President Dezman Jackson  at for more information.


Greater Baltimore Chapter Pamper a Pal Donation Drawing!

Support the greater Baltimore Chapter by donating in exchange for a chance to win a fabulous basket of prizes with a total value of $350. Each donation of $6 earns you one chance to win, and you get an extra chance for a donation of $24, making a total of five chances.


The basket includes:

• A gift certificate for a one-hour table massage at The QG’s downtown Baltimore location, plus $30 toward a meal at its Clock Restoration bar;

• 1 vanilla mint candle from Sobotanical;

• 1 bag of Threads coffee, along with a coffee mug;

• 1 bottle of wine with two wine glasses;

• A $50 gift certificate to Herbal Nails on Fort Avenue in Baltimore; and

• Bath scrub, soap, and lotion made by blind entrepreneur Lisamaria Martinez.


The drawing closes on May 18.


To donate for a chance to win, you can pay Chris Danielsen, Lou Ann Blake, or Karen Anderson directly or use the PayPal button located at:


Successful Travel!

The NFB of Maryland Seniors Division is hosting a senior seminar entitled: My Eyes Don’t Work but My Brain Still Does: Nonvisual Tips for Successful Travel.  Please come join our conversation to explore the nuts and bolts of traveling as a blind person. Learn how to manage different modes of transportation and how to orient yourself in unfamiliar environments. We will share tips for individuals with various levels of changing vision.


This conference-call based conversation will take place on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 from 7:00 – 8:30PM.  Participation is free and all are welcome.  Participants may access the seminar by calling 339-209-4083.  For questions or more information, contact NFBMD Senior Issues Division President Marguerite Woods at 443-271-1668 or


Remember to Pay Your 2023 Dues!

NFBMD maintains an online portal for individuals to pay their chapter and division dues.  We are asking members to pay their 2023 dues as soon as possible so we can ensure that our rolls are accurate for the annual national membership data call.  We are asking individuals to pay their 2023 dues by January 31, 2023.


Individuals may use NFBMD’s Dues Portal to pay their 2023 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.  One dollar will be added to chapter and division annual dues amounts for processing those dues payments online.  The portal is located at  Alternatively, individuals may mail a check to their chapter or division treasurer.



Important Upcoming Dates

  • April 21, 2023 – NFBMD Poppin Fundraiser Closes
  • May 6, 2023 – Baltimore County Games Night, Green Turtle, Towson, Maryland
  • May 6, 2023 – Baltimore County Food Fundraiser, Green Turtle, Towson, Maryland
  • May 13, 2023 – NFBMD Bid for Opportunity Dinner and Auction, College Park, Maryland
  • May 17, 2023 – Senior Seminar – My Eyes Don’t Work but My Brain Still Does: Nonvisual Tips for Travel, teleconference
  • May 18, 2023 – NFB Greater Baltimore Pampering Yourself Fundraiser Deadline, anywhere and everywhere
  • May 20, 2023 – NFBMD Stem2U, Baltimore, Maryland
  • May 20, 2023 – Maryland Organization of Parents of Blind Children Advocacy Seminar, Baltimore, Maryland
  • May 31, 2023 – Deadline to Preregister for NFB Annual Convention, Houston, Texas
  • July 1 – 6, 2023 – NFB National Convention, Houston, Texas
  • July 25– August 11, 2023 –NFB BELL Academy In Home Edition, Anywhere and Everywhere
  • August 4, 2023 – NFBMD Crab Feast, Parkville, Maryland
  • August 7 – 18, 2023 – In Person NFB BELL Academy, Baltimore, Maryland
  • August 7 – 11, 2023 – In Person NFB BELLX Academy, Salisbury, Maryland
  • October 1 – 31, 2023 – Blind Equality Achievement Month
  • October 21, 2023 – NFB Greater Baltimore Chapter Meet the Blind Month Activity: Baltimore Running Festival Water Station, Baltimore, Maryland
  • November 10 – 12, 2023 – NFBMD Annual Convention, Hunt Valley, Maryland
  • December 3 – 10, 2023 – NFBMD Blind Cruising 2023, Bahamas
  • January 18, 2024 – NFBMD Day in Annapolis, Annapolis, Maryland