February 2024 Minute Message


Fellow Federationists:


We just held our 58th annual state convention, and it was filled with high expectations, high energy, and high rewards.  I very much appreciated spending time with each of you, and it was incredible to experience the energy of our membership.  We’ve also been hard at work influence lawmakers in Annapolis on our four legislative priorities for 2024 but also working on over 80 other bills and initiatives.  NFBMD Basket and Bag Bingo 1.0 is right around the corner, and we are jumping right into scholarship and national convention seasons.  Read on for more information about the happenings of the NFB of Maryland.


Thank You for Expecting Much, Giving Much, Getting Much!

Thank you to each of you who attended the 58th annual NFB of Maryland State Convention.  Together, we were able to “Expect much, give much, and get much.”  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, to organizing the career fair, to speaking to the convention, to working childcare, to engaging social media, to staffing the PAC and Registration Tables, to managing door prizes and the auctions, to baking for the Fire Sale, to selling, buying, and delivering Love Notes, to selling candy, nuts, cell phone carriers, and more, to participating in Dinner 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, https://nfbmd.org, in the coming weeks to find the 2024 resolutions and some key highlights such as many important moments you’ll want to revisit. 


Annapolis Advocacy Continues!

We continue to advocate for our legislative priorities at the Maryland General Assembly.  We attended seven hearings where our members testified before the General Assembly about our legislative priorities, and we will testify at least three more times in the coming days.  We have also provided written testimony to another more than 20 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 60 bills.  These cover areas of access to information, education, housing, transportation, health care, voting, commerce, and employment. 


On February 20 and 21, we testified on HB0775 and SB0802, our legislation to ensure access to an electronic, accessible vote-by-mail process.  We’ve shifted from internet-based ballot return to a physical return of an electronic ballot via a flash drive or other physical media storage device. 


On January 25 and February 2, we testified at the Maryland Department of Disabilities Budget Hearing in support of funding the Center for Excellence in Nonvisual Access. 


On February 21 and 23, we testified on HB1076 and SB1091, our Accessible Textbook Equity bill.    


On February 1, we testified on HB0107, the Better Bus Services Act.  We will testify on the Senate cross file, SB0943 on March 6.


We have also testified about DORS funding, bicycle lanes, Paratransit and Mobility Link, the definition of disability, deaf-blind co-navigation services, curbside voting, play area accessibility, access to attorneys and advocates in special education, and many more. 


We will soon be testifying about autonomous vehicle legislation, HB1447, a terrible bill that discriminates against people with disabilities and would make it legal for Maryland entities to do so with regard to autonomous vehicles.  We also plan to testify on artificial intelligence legislation and the establishment of a grant program for service animal training programs in Maryland, among a myriad of other topics.


The Maryland legislature is extremely busy this year with a tremendous number of bills.  In order to make sure that our delegates and senators know our matters are critical to us, we need to contact them to tell them to support our initiatives.  Our Director of Legislation and Advocacy, Sharon Maneki, has posted information on our lists about how to do this as well as visited many chapters.  You may also contact Sharon Maneki directly to request it at 410-715-9596 or at NFBMDSM@gmail.com.  Please be sure to copy Annapolis@nfbmd.org when you send your letters, or notify that email address or Sharon once you’ve made your calls.


Remember to Pay Your 2024 Dues!

NFBMD maintains an online portal for individuals to pay their chapter and division dues.  We are asking members to pay their 2024 dues as soon as possible so we can ensure that our rolls are accurate.


Individuals may use NFBMD’s Dues Portal to pay their 2024 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.



Individuals may also pay their chapter dues at the Registration Table at the State Convention.


Please note that those paying via the online portal will incur a small processing fee.


Get ready for Orlando in 2024!

The NFB 2024 National Convention will take place from July 3 – 8, 2024 in Orlando, Florida.  The Rosen Center Hotel will be the primary location.  The Convention room rate is $129 plus tax per night for singles and doubles and $139 plus tax for triples and quads.  To reserve a room, call the hotel at 800-204-7234; be sure to ask for the NFB Convention block.  You can reserve your room until May 31, 2024, or until the room block fills up which is likely to be sooner. 


You can also visit https://nfb.org/convention for more information, including the cancellation policy. 


Preregistration for the convention will open on March 1 and will close May 31, 2024. 


First time national convention attendees may apply for the Kenneth Jernigan Scholarship, which is a grant the NFB provides to people who have not attended a national convention in person previously.  The deadline is April 15, 2024.  Visit this link for more information on how to apply.  https://nfb.org/get-involved/national-convention/kenneth-jernigan-convention-scholarship


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 will go live on February 20 and must be submitted by March 31, 2024.  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.  Priority will be given to those who have not attended a national convention in the past and to students.  Individuals will need to make their own hotel reservations and pay the initial deposit.  For questions about the Financial Assistance Application Program, please reach out to your chapter president or me at President@nfbmd.org.


do You Feel Lucky?

The NFBMD spring raffle is upon us. 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. Tickets are available from chapter presidents and affiliate Board Members.  Help us sell all 1,000 tickets! 


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, 2024, and the deadline to apply for an NFBMD Scholarship is April 15, 2024.


National Scholarship Program: Each year, the NFB awards 30 merit-based scholarships totaling $240,000. 

  • Each scholarship recipient will receive $8,000 and additional prizes.
  • Scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement, leadership, and community service.
  • The 30 scholarship finalists are announced in the spring and attend the NFB National Convention, where they are mentored by blind role models.
  • Application materials must be submitted (online or postmarked) by 11:59PM on March 31, 2024.
  • 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 2024 (one scholarship may be awarded to an individual who works full-time and attends school part-time);
    • Be age 18 before July 2, 2024; and
    • Attend the entire National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind (and all scholarship activities) in Orlando, Florida from July 3 through 8, 2024 (scholarship finalists will receive convention grants).
  • To apply, submit an application using the online application system at https://scholarships.nfb.org/.


State Scholarship Program: The NFB of Maryland will award up to four scholarships of $4,000 each as part of the John T. McCraw Scholarship Program. 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, 2024.
  • 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 age 18 prior to July 2, 2024;
    • 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 2024 and Spring of 2025 (priority will be given to full-time students); and
    • Attend the entire National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Orlando, Florida from July 3 through 8, 2024 and the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland in Maryland in February 2025 (scholarship finalists will receive convention grants).
  • To apply:

Download, complete, and email or mail in a hard copy application form by visiting: http://nfbmd.org/scholarship.


Important Upcoming Dates

  • March 1, 2024 – Preregistration opens for NFB National Convention
  • March 8, 2024 – Basket Bingo, Catonsville, Maryland
  • March 31, 2024 – Deadline for National Scholarship Applications.
  • March 31, 2024 – Deadline for applications for NFBMD Financial Assistance for National Convention
  • April 15, 2024 – Deadline for NFBMD Scholarship Applications
  • April 15, 2024 – Deadline for Jernigan Fund applications for National Convention
  • May 4, 2024 – NFBMD STEM2U, Baltimore, Maryland
  • May 31, 2024 – Deadline to Preregister for NFB Annual Convention, Orlando, Florida
  • June 24 – 28, 2024 – In Person NFB BELL Academy, Southern Maryland
  • July 3 – 8, 2024 – NFB National Convention, Orlando, Florida
  • August 5 – 16, 2024 – In Person NFB BELL Academy, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Summer 2024 (date TBD) – In Person NFB BELL Academy, Salisbury, Maryland
  • September 20, 2024 – NFBMD Crab Feast, Rosedale, Maryland
  • October 1 – 31, 2024 – Blind Equality Achievement Month
  • October 2, 2024 – Give a Hoot Comedy Fundraiser, Gaithersburg, Maryland
  • October 18, 2024 – Basket Bingo, Catonsville, Maryland
  • February 14 – 16, 2025 – NFBMD 2025 Convention, Ocean City, Maryland