April Message from the Movement

Fellow Federationists:

Many thanks to all who helped make the 2015 session of the Maryland General Assembly a very productive one for the blind of Maryland.  Gov. Hogan appropriated $250,000 to continue the work of the CENA, the Center of Excellence in Nonvisual Access to Education, Public Information, and Commerce.  The Maryland General Assembly kept that money in the budget.  We look forward to the great things that CENA will accomplish, especially its plan to provide access to the over 10 million books in the HathiTrust. 

Because of our efforts more parents and students will learn about the value of Orientation and Mobility instruction.  We expect that many more students who need this instruction will receive it over the coming years.  The Maryland General Assembly passed HB535/SB538 and we are hopeful that Gov. Hogan will sign it in May. 

Gov. Hogan proposed a very severe cut to the programs at the Library for the Blind.  The program would have been eliminated because the cuts were scheduled to occur over a period of ten years.  Because of our advocacy the Maryland General Assembly struck this plan from the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2015. 

We joined with BISM to protect the jobs of blind Marylanders, especially those who work in BISM’s Baltimore plant.  Although HB349 was passed by the Maryland General Assembly, it was amended to study whether BISM would impact the Minority Business Enterprise Program.  The Maryland General Assembly also struck language from the bill that would have prevented BISM from bidding on janitorial product contracts.  Protecting the livelihood of blind persons is one of our highest priorities.   

On the last day of the session, the Maryland General Assembly passed SB868, a bill regulating how transportation network companies (services such as Uber and Lyft) will operate in the state.  These companies will be regulated by the Maryland Public Service Commission.  Because of our advocacy this bill contains language instructing the Public Service Commission to issue regulations to ensure non-discrimination on the basis of disability and the accessibility of all websites and apps.

During the coming months we will be concentrating on growing the membership of our movement.  On April 18, we will conduct an outreach event in Cumberland.  On May 2, we will be introducing the NFB to people who live in Carroll County and surrounding areas.  On June 13, we will hold a special event to recruit members for our three chapters that cover Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and surrounding areas.  Stay tuned for more information. 

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are right around the corner.  Consider using Amazon Smile when purchasing your gifts of appreciation and help the NFBMD at the same time.  Go to http://smile.amazon.com/ch/52-1301033.

Did you read the Spring 2015 issue of the Braille Spectator?  Go to http://www.nfbmd.org/drupal/newsletter.

Need a lift, spark of hope or something to renew your spirit?  For the audio 2014 Presidential Report given at our State convention, go to http://www.nfbmd.org/drupal/archives and select the 2014 Presidential Report.

Thanks for all you do.  Consult the calendar below to make sure you don’t miss any of these important events.

April 18. Bowl-a-thon to benefit Maryland Parents of Blind Children. Get your team ready to bowl from 2-4pm. For more information, contact Teresa Graham at teresagraham3@gmail.com.

May 9. Be OK with Blindness.  This seminar, presented by MDPOBC and BISM, is for parents, siblings and teachers of BVI children. Location: 3345 Washington Blvd, Baltimore, MD.  For more information send an email to Melissa Riccobono,mdpobc@nfbmd.org.

May 21.  Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Nonvisual Access will be discussed and  demonstrated at Towson University to educate students and professors.  For more information contact Natalie Shaheen, nshaheen@nfb.org.

June 7. Third annual Dot Dash 6k. Run or walk for Braille literacy. Race begins at 200 East Wells Street at Jernigan Place, Baltimore, MD 21230.

July 5-10. 75th Annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind.

July 27 thru August 7, excluding weekends.  NFB BELL programs in Baltimore, Glendale and Salisbury.

August 7. Crab Feast to be held at Columbus Gardens, 4301 Klosterman Ave Baltimore, MD 21236. For the benefit of the John T. McGraw Scholarship.

November 13-15.  NFBMD Annual State Convention, to be held in Ocean City, MD.

Sharon Maneki, President

National Federation of the Blind of Maryland