March, April, and May 2024 Minute Message


Fellow Federationists:


My how quickly spring has gone by!  We just held our second annual STEM2U event for blind and low vision children, and it was a rousing success.  Maryland students now know that blindness is not an obstacle to studying STEM, including literal rocket science.  We also held a concurrent seminar for parents of blind students, which they too learned to raise their expectations for their children.  We finished a very successful state legislative session, attending a couple of bill signings, and worked on numerous individual case advocacy efforts.  We had a wonderful Basket and Bag Bingo I.  We’ve held numerous events at the local level as well.  We’re very much looking forward to our first NFB BELL Academy of the summer and the NFB National Convention in the next month or so. And this summer promises to be as action-packed as ever.  Read on for more happenings in the NFB of Maryland.


We Need Your Experiences!

We are seeking your experiences concerning the following areas if any of the below occurred in Maryland:

  • If you have experienced accessibility barriers – physical and digital – in housing, including rental applications, leases, mortgage applications, underwriting information, search websites and databases, communications, accessible signage and elevators in larger buildings, rental or purchase denials due to blindness, or other discriminatory experiences;
  • If you have encountered discrimination in the employment arena, including inaccessible job applications or recruitment websites, drivers license requirements where driving is not an essential part of the job, automated and AI screening that shuts out applicants who are blind, or other employment discrimination;

We need your stories.  Please reach out to me at or at 443-426-4110.  If possible, please connect with me by June 30, 2024.


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.  Shuttles will be available to transport individuals who are staying at one of the other two Rosen properties.  Preregistration for the convention closed May 31, 2024, but on-site registration will be available beginning July 3.  There is also a virtual convention experience, for which registration costs $10.  To register for the virtual experience, go to


The agenda will be published in the coming days.  To access the agenda and other convention information, visit


We can’t wait to see you in Orlando!


NFBMD National Convention Orientation – Wednesday, June 26, 2024 at 8:00PM

The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland will once again be hosting a National Convention Orientation for Marylanders on Wednesday, June 26, 2024 starting at 8:00PM.  All Marylanders who are attending an in-person NFB national convention for the first time or those who just want information about the Convention are welcome.  We will be discussing what to expect, Maryland-specific events and activities, and mentoring and getting assistance during the convention.

Click this link to join: 


Meeting ID: 624 813 8327

One tap mobile




We will be holding the Maryland Caucus in person during the NFB National Convention, and it promises to be action-packed.  Come to meet the NFBMD State Scholarship winners, discuss the resolutions that will come before the convention, and so much more!  This is a very important event, so please plan to attend.


We don’t yet know the date, time, and location of the Caucus, but we will widely disseminate the information once it is finalized.


We hope to have a Zoom option for those attending the convention virtually, but as we have no control over the technology and internet connectivity at the hotel, we cannot guarantee this will work out.



Support NFBMD By Donating and Then Getting Stuff

We will be accepting donations in Orlando at our affiliate table at the Exhibit Hall, and members of the affiliate may also be on hand to receive donations to NFBMD.  In appreciation for donations at a certain level, we will offer in appreciation a particular item.  You can donate at various levels and can combine levels to get more tokens of appreciation.  Here’s what our menu looks like:

  • In appreciation for a donation of $1, you can have a snack item.
  • In appreciation for a donation of $5, you can get a fidget spinner.
  • In appreciation for a donation of an amount TBD, you can receive a pen toolkit.  This pocket-sized pen tool includes a flashlight and several multi-tool features.  This luggage tag is branded with the NFB of Maryland logo.
  • In appreciation for an amount TBD, you can receive a crab-shaped luggage tag.  This luggage tag is branded with the NFB of Maryland logo.
  • In appreciation for a donation of $10, you can receive an entire back of assorted snacks.
  • In appreciation for a donation of $20, you can receive a clear backpack with the NFB of Maryland logo on it.  This stadium-approved bag is fun and practical, and it even has an outside pocket for your other stuff.  This luggage tag is branded with the NFB of Maryland logo.
  • In appreciation for a donation of $40, you can get your very own set of NFB of Maryland Scrubs, complete with the Maryland crab and NFBMD logo on them.


We’ll also have available the Sorry Try Again raffle, where you can, for a dollar per try, win instantly $1, $5, $10, $20, or some delicious mints.


Speaking of Donations: Help Us Out With a Zell Donation!

NFB of Maryland is proud to share that we can now accept Zell payments for purchases and donations.  We encourage donations during the next few months in particular, as we have significant programming we need to fund with our NFB BELL Academies and John T. McCraw Scholarship Program, among many other important initiatives.


To send a payment via Zell, just use the email address  Please notate what the payment is for, e.g. general donation, crab feast ticket, etc. in the notes section.  If using your bank mobile application or online banking, NFB of Maryland will appear when you enter the email address.  If using the Zell application, please select “personal banking” instead of “corporate banking” for the Zell information for NFBMD to appear in connection with the email address


If you have questions, please contact me at 443-426-4110 or at


NFBMD Spring Theater Donation Drive: Beetlejuice, the Musical

The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland is conducting a Spring Theater Donation Drive. In appreciation for your financial support, we will enter contributors in this program into a drawing for a pair of tickets to the Hippodrome Theater in Baltimore to see the hit musical, Beetlejuice, Sunday, June 30, 2024.  The winner may request that the date of the event be changed to a different day the previous week.


The show will be audio described.


For every $10, the contributor will get one chance to win. For example, if an individual donates $20, they will be entered into the drawing two times.


We will draw on June 15, 2024 for these tickets.  


Here are the rules:

- Contributions will be taken until June 14, 2024 as part of this initiative.

- For each $10 donated, the individual's name will be entered into the drawing. That means the more the individual donates, the greater their chance of winning.

- We will draw on June 15, 2024 one name from those who have contributed at least $10 during the campaign. That individual will receive 2 tickets to the June 30 show, and they may request the tickets be changed for a different performance between June 26 - 29 (the Hippodrome may not be able to accommodate the attendee's first choice).  

- Tickets are nonrefundable and nonexchangeable.


To make a donation as part of this drive, please:






 Contact Ronza Othman directly to arrange for in-person payment at or at 443-426-4110.


For questions, contact Ronza Othman at or at 443-426-4110.





Join the NFBMD Job Club

Come join the Job Club! The NFBMD Employment Committee is pleased to invite you to a job Club zoom call from 7:00 to 8:30 pm on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. The June topic is entitled: “How To Stay Motivated When searching for employment” and is open to People looking for employment, individuals seeking current job upward mobility, those wishing to help blind people look for employment, and any other interested parties.


Discussion in the first call will focus on: learning a new skill, setting goals and celebrating them, getting organized with a personal job search plan, and finding a mentor/partner, with whom you can support each other and share victories.


Registration is required. Send an e-mail to Judy Rasmussen at by Friday, May 31 or ASAP. The zoom link will be sent once you have registered. We look forward to getting to know you and helping you through your job search. We want to share in your struggles and victories.


Crabbing for Student Scholarships

Please purchase your tickets today 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, September 20, 2024 - 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Where: Rosedale Gardens – 8037Philadelphia Road - Baltimore, MD 21237

Tickets are $75 each if purchased before August 31, or $85 afterword’s. 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, fried chicken, beef Bar B Que – All You Can Eat!
Plus a Buffet of Entrees Including Maryland-style crab soup, corn-on-the-cob, other sides, salad, fruit, cake…
Yuengling and Miller beer
Carbonated Beverages, iced tea, and Coffee

To purchase tickets, visit

For additional information contact me at (443) 426-4110 or email


NFBMD John T. McCraw Scholarship Finalists

The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland is pleased to announce that this year, four students have been selected as 2024 John T. McCraw Scholarship finalists.  Shuketha Johnson will be attending Coppin State University working toward a dual Masters Degree in Addiction Counseling and mental health counseling.  Shuketha intends to work toward ending intergenerational addiction.  Derrick Day will be enrolling as a freshman at the University of Maryland, studying Artificial Intelligence.  Naudia Graham will be enrolling at Loyola University Maryland as a freshman, studying English; Naudia plans to become a lawyer.  Mercy Rao will also be enrolling as a freshman at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania.  Mercy will be enrolled in a five-year Masters program working toward her degree in occupational therapy. 


They will all be attending the NFB National Convention in Orlando and the NFBMD State Convention in Ocean City, so you will have the chance to get to know them.  They will receive their NFBMD scholarships of $4,000 each, at the state convention in February provided they remain eligible.  We are thrilled with this year’s scholarship class and know you will be impressed as well.


Success in Annapolis!

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

  • Provided a $275,000 appropriation for the Museum of the Blind People’s Movement;
  • Protected and maintained the $250,000 appropriation to the Center for Excellence in Nonvisual Access in the 2025 budget;
  • Passed HB1076 and SB1091, the Accessible Textbook Equity bill, which closes loopholes in Maryland State law to ensure blind and low vision k-12 students get their textbooks in their needed accessible format including Braille and large print at the same time as their sighted classmates; and
  • Passed HB0107 and SB0943, the Better Bus Services Act, which sets the framework for bus lane and bust stop enforcement for those who prevent us from safely and independently using the public transportation system (though this law needs some enhancements in the coming session, it’s a good start).


We have also provided written and/oral 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 100 bills.  For example:

  • We successfully 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 enables 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 communication boards in public play areas be nonvisually accessible.
  • We advocated to establish a service animal training grant which will attract guide dog training entities to establish business in Maryland.
  • We advocated to establish the deaf-blind navigator program.
  • We successfully advocated to update the definition of disability in Maryland state law so it is consistent with the Federal definition.
  • We successfully advocated to ensure that WAMATA is sufficiently funded to maintain fixed and paratransit services in Maryland.
  • We successfully advocated to ensure improvements in the Maryland ABLE Program.
  • We advocated for more accountability and better oversight over the Maryland Transit Administration’s paratransit and fixed route services.
  • We successfully supported legislative financial support for the Maryland School for the Blind to continue to update its campus and physical building infrastructure.
  • We successfully supported the establishment of a state grant program for individuals with disabilities to access Maryland boating and water recreation services.
  • We successfully supported legislation that increased funding to Maryland Library Resource Centers, which resulted in a funding increase to the Maryland Library for the Blind and Print Disabled.
  • We successfully supported legislation to increase access to advocates, experts, and attorneys for families seeking special education services and supports for Maryland kids with disabilities.
  • We successfully advocated for a study of the Maryland Mobility Link Program to determine where improvements should be made.
  • We advocated for legislation that would strip the bias out of automated employment screening tools.
  • We successfully fought a bill that would prohibit autonomous vehicles from being operated by an individual without a valid driver’s license.
  • We successfully fought a bill that would make curbside voting the alternative to accessible vote by mail in Maryland.
  • We advocated for a bill that would establish electronic means of signatures on ballot petitions, including for candidates to be eligible to run, which will end the discriminatory practice of only permitting those without print disabilities to independently sign such petitions.
  • We advocated for an accessible method to return our vote-by-mail ballots privately and independently, and we began a partnership with the Save Our Votes Coalition to jointly solve the problem (this coalition has historically opposed our efforts for electronic ballot return).


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


On May 16, 2024, we were on hand when Governor Moore signed into law HB1076 and SB1091, the Accessible Textbook Equity bill, and HB0107 and SB0943, the Better Bus Services Act.


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 Allison Mills who assisted in ensuring that written testimony and oral testimony sign-ups were submitted on time in a very tight window.  I am also grateful to our Annapolis reader / driver Linda Furiate who took our legislative leads to Annapolis many times this session.  Also thanks to our affiliate drivers, Alice Gosse, Jerry Lazarus, Holly Mooney, Dawn Lambrecht, and Teresa Graham. 


Please send emails thanking our lead sponsors in the Maryland General Assembly and copy

  • HB1076 (Textbook Equity Bill) – Delegate denise Roberts
  • SB1091 (Textbook Equity Bill) – Senator Ron Watson
  • HB0107 (Better Bus Services Act) – Delegate Robbyn Lewis
  • SB0943 (Better Bus Services Act) – Senator Ariana Kelly (retired)


Finally, we are incredibly grateful to Sharon Maneki, for her support and hard work as she worked with me this session on our legislative initiatives. 


Save the date of January 18, 2024 for our 2025 Day in Annapolis!


2025 State Convention Theme Contest

Each year, we choose a State Convention theme that is representative of our hope, priorities, or expectations for the convention and what comes after.  Recent themes have included: “Expect Much, Give Much, Get Much!”, “Celebrating our Stories, Defining our Future,” “Rise Up,” “Focus Forward,” and “Reconnect, Reimagine, Reignite.”


We use the theme to inform the opening ceremonies, tie together the presidential report, and hold seminars and other activities. 


If you have a suggested theme, please call, text, or email it to me by July 31, 2024.  The person whose theme is chosen will get a free banquet ticket for the 2025 state convention.


Please email me at, text me at 443-426-4110, or call me at that number.  Please be sure to tell me in your email, texts, or voicemail who you are.


Basket and Bag Bingo Success!

We want to thank everyone who attended NFB Basket and Bag Bingo on March 8, 2024.  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.  We also want to recognize Sharon Maneki and Terri Canter for their over twenty years of leadership of this event.  Sharon and Terri have decided to retire from coordinating this event, but doubtless they will now have time to play as participants.


We’ll be holding a second NFB of Maryland Basket and Bag Bingo on October 18, 2024, hosted by the Baltimore County and Greater Baltimore Chapters.  Information will be forthcoming, and tickets will go on sale later this summer.


The BELLs Toll Once Again in Maryland!

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 three in-person sessions, including:

  • A one-week NFB BELL Academy session in Southern Maryland from June 24 – 28, 2024;
  • a two-week in person NFB BELL Academy session in Baltimore, Maryland, From August 5 – 16, 2024;
  • a one-week in person NFB BELL Academy session in Salisbury, Maryland, in partnership with Blind Industries and Services of Maryland, From August 5 –9, 2024.


To register for the NFB BELL Academy, visit:  For questions, contact NFB of Maryland NFB BELL Academy Coordinator Melissa Riccobono at


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  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.



Important Upcoming Dates