In the blink of an eye, Traci Meece went from having barely enough vision to drive to having only enough to distinguish light from dark and blurs of color.
But today she’s independent, self-sufficient and an entrepreneur who runs her own architectural photography business with the help of tools provided by a state rehabilitation program.
Without Ohio’s Rehabilitation Services Commission, “my miracle wouldn’t have happened, it wouldn’t exist,” the Hamilton, Ohio, woman told the Senate Labor and Human Resources employment and training subcommittee Thursday.
Meece was born with a degenerative form of extreme nearsightedness.
Three months after her graduation in 1995 from photography school, Meece suffered an optical hemorrhage that reduced her uncorrected vision to 20/1800 in one eye and 20/2000 in the other. Her corrected vision became 20/400.
“What you can see 100 feet away, I can see from only 1 foot away,” she explained to the senators.
She said the services she found - financed with federal money and administered by the state - gave her what she needed to continue her fledgling photography career.
To compensate for visual shortcomings, she got a closed-circuit television camera to use for magnifying print, a light box to enlarge negatives, commercial photography cameras and a device that brightens the image in the viewfinder.
The rehabilitation program also put her in contact with consultants who showed her how to write a business plan and provided a computer to help run the business.
Her testimony was part of an examination of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which made it federal policy to help the disabled gain independence within the work force.