[Greater-Baltimore] Second Annapolis Issue

nfbmd nfbmd at earthlink.net
Wed Jan 11 23:21:07 UTC 2017

To:             Members of the Maryland General Assembly
From:        Members of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland
Contact:   Sharon Maneki, President
National Federation of the Blind of Maryland
9013 Nelson Way
Columbia, MD 21045
Phone: 410-715-9596
Email: nfbmd at earthlink.net
Subject:    Appropriation for the Center of Excellence in Nonvisual Access
(CENA) to Education, Public Information, and Commerce
Date:         January 19, 2017
The Maryland General Assembly should keep the $250,000 appropriation in the
Governor's Budget for the CENA to Education, Public Information, and
In 2014, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) founded the NFB CENA.
The CENA is a center of expertise, best practices, and resources that
enables business, government, as well as educational institutions to more
effectively provide accessible information and services to blind citizens.
The State of Maryland, through the Maryland Department of Disabilities
(MDOD), has an ongoing partnership with the CENA to support a series of
projects collectively referred to as the Nonvisual Accessibility Initiative
(NVAI) with an aim to establish Maryland as a leader in nonvisual


Accessible Academic E-Book Program

The HathiTrust is a consortium of institutions offering a collection of more
than 10 million titles digitized from around the world, including textbooks.
The NFB is working with the HathiTrust to make these books available to all
blind and print-disabled persons, regardless of institutional affiliation.
The project is a unique opportunity to create a nationwide accessible
library for people with disabilities to obtain the materials they need, with
the immediacy that they need it.

Accessibility Boutiques and Training Seminars 

The CENA, with financial support from the NVAI, has produced a number of
informal accessibility-specific boutiques and training seminars. The
boutiques offered by the CENA have been hosted at the NFB Jernigan
Institute, are several hours long, and are open to the public at no cost to
Maryland citizens. Additionally, the NFB has produced several larger
training seminars with support from MDOD and the NVAI grant. Training
seminars are more intensive and take place over an entire day or several
days. In 2017-18, the CENA will produce additional boutiques and training
seminars, and will reach more participants in areas across the state. 

Accessibility Switchboard

The Accessibility Switchboard is an online accessibility portal that will
provide up-to-date information to consumers about accessible websites,
emerging technology, as well as frequently encountered accessibility
problems and solutions. It will be a point of contact for consumers who wish
to voice concerns about barriers to nonvisual access, so that the CENA can
evaluate and address these concerns. Moreover, it will provide information
specific to government, corporate, and educational institutions on
effectively building websites that comply with web standards, and
information on the procurement of accessible technologies. 

WayFinding Technology

Emerging nonvisual access navigation, or wayfinding technology, offers
orientation and information solutions to a variety of public and commercial
venues, including public transportation information. As Maryland reinvests
in its public transport system through the Baltimore Link initiative, and
upgrades its public spaces to incorporate new technologies, the time is
right to ensure nonvisual access and provide additional access opportunities
to its diverse populace by implementing the use of nonvisual wayfinding
technologies to assist and provide greater access for citizens with
disabilities and nondisabled citizens as well.
Access to information remains one of the greatest barriers faced by blind
persons.  To reduce these barriers the National Federation of the Blind
established the CENA to provide information about best practices and to
develop innovative techniques for achieving nonvisual access.  The Maryland
General Assembly should allow this state-of-the-art program to continue by
approving the $250,000 appropriation in the Governor's Budget under the
Maryland Department of Disabilities.  
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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