[Greater-Baltimore] January Minute Message

nfbmd nfbmd at earthlink.net
Wed Jan 11 23:15:47 UTC 2017

January Minute Message
Fellow Federationists:
Day in Annapolis.
January means it is time to go to Annapolis.  This year we will be going on
Thursday, January 19.  Please let your chapter president or me know if you
are planning to attend.  We need lots of people because we will be visiting
with all 188 members of the General Assembly.
This year our focus is on access to information.  We have three issues that
promote accessibility.  First, we will strengthen the procurement laws that
require the state to purchase only accessible information and communication
technologies.  The current law is a good law but the state ignores it.  We
need a law that has some teeth.  The General Assembly should enact penalties
for vendors who violate accessibility requirements; should raise the cap
that allows vendors to seek an exemption to the law and should establish a
central authority that is responsible to ensure that the law is enforced.  
The second issue is to ask the General Assembly not to cut the $250,000
appropriation for the National Federation of the Blind which is under the
Maryland Department of Disabilities in the Governor's Budget.  This money
will be used for the Center of Excellence in Nonvisual Access (CENA) to
Education, Public Information, and Commerce.   By offering training seminars
and specialized online resources, the CENA will continue to help business,
government, and educational institutions to more effectively provide
accessible information and services to blind citizens.  
Our third issue is to improve services at the Library for Blind and
Physically Handicapped by moving it out of the Maryland State Department of
Education.  The Maryland General Assembly should create the Maryland State
Library Agency.  One of the functions of this new agency will be the
operation of LBPH.  Locating LBPH in a structure with fewer layers of
bureaucracy will enable it to use its funding with greater dispatch and hire
needed staff more quickly.  The result will be better library services for
the blind and physically handicapped citizens of Maryland.  I will send the
fact sheets which contain more information on these issues to the list
serves and will place it on the website under 'Current Advocacy Issues.'
Stories Needed.
This is an important message from Melissa Lomax.  We all know that blindness
is not the characteristic that defines us or our future-so, let's help
others to believe this too!  Share your story on the NFBMD website because
your words may be the encouragement that someone may need. Possibly, you
were denied access to a job, class, hobby, or location, yet through your
determination you gained access and changed others' opinions about
blindness.  Or, you may have struggled to accept your blindness until you
received training or had an experience that transformed your entire outlook.
You may have done something super amazing not because you are blind but
because you always wanted to do this particular thing, and you were not
going to let blindness be the one element that stopped you.  If you fall
into one of these categories, or if you have other stories of interest-stop,
reflect, and write!

All submissions can be emailed to Melissa Lomax at MelissaLomax1 at gmail.com
<mailto:MelissaLomax1 at gmail.com> . For assistance with the writing process,
call Melissa at (410) 608-6118. 
NFB Needs Help with Technology.
Apply to Become a National Federation of the Blind BUILD Team Member:
Technologies are being developed every day that affect the way we all live,
work, and play. In order to ensure access to the ever-evolving technologies
that make it possible for blind people to live the lives we want, we need
blind users to innovate and lead the design process. The NFB is establishing
a database of Blind Users Innovating and Leading Design (BUILD) to evaluate
websites, products, and services for accessibility. Apply to become a member
of our BUILD team by completing the survey at https://nfb.org/build-team.
Get Ready for Washington Seminar.
The Washington seminar begins on January 30 at the Holiday Inn at the
Capitol, 550 C Street Southwest.  There will be a discussion of our four
issues at 2:00 pm on January 30.  As usual, the main gathering meeting
begins at 5:00 pm.  On Tuesday, January 31 we will visit the Maryland
Delegation on Capitol Hill.  We need lots of help because we will also have
a student rally at lunchtime.  You will not want to miss the congressional
reception at the Dirksen Senate Office Building at 5:00 pm on the 31st.    
Other Happenings.
Be sure to check the website for upcoming events.  Don't forget when you are
looking under upcoming events to check the Around the State heading.  Local
chapter events are featured here.  For instance, you will see information
about the Sligo Creek celebration of Louis Braille birthday as well as the
upcoming National Harbor Chapter Anniversary on February 4.   
Save These Dates.
January 19, 2017.  Day in Annapolis.
January 28, 2017. Braille Challenge for students in PreK-12th grade. Takes
place at the Maryland School for the Blind. 
January 30, 2017.  Washington Seminar Meeting.
January 31, 2017.  Visit the Maryland Delegation in D.C.
February 2, 2017. Diabetes Conference Call, 7 pm. Call 641-715-3272. The
access code is 720125#.
March 10, 2017.  Basket Bingo, The Lodge, Catonsville, MD.
March 25, 2017.  Board of Directors Meeting and Leadership Seminar.
March 31, 2017. Deadline for submitting National Scholarship Application.
April 15, 2017. Deadline for submitting State Scholarship Applications.
May 7, 2017. Deadline for Youth SLAM student applications. 
July 10-15, 2017. National Convention, Orlando, FL.
July 17-28, 2017. NFB BELL Academy in Salisbury, MD.
July 23-29, 2017. NFB Youth SLAM Towson University, MD.
July 31-August 11, 2017. NFB BELL Academies in Baltimore and Glendale, MD.
August 19, 2017.  Annual Crab Feast, Columbus Gardens, Baltimore, MD.
November 10-12, 2017.  Annual State Convention, Sheraton Baltimore North
Hotel in Towson, Maryland.
Sharon Maneki, President
National Federation of the Blind of Maryland
The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the
characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the
expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles
between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want;
blindness is not what holds you back.

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