The Nicole Kahn Endowment Fund for Assistive Technology

The Nicole Kahn Endowment Fund for Assistive Technology was created by Ron and Susy Kahn to ensure Cleveland Sight Center clients have the ability to purchase life-changing assistive technology they need to achieve their goals. Ron and Susy lost their daughter, Nicole Kahn, in the fall of 2022 and this fund was created in her name and honor. Read more about Nicole's story and her passion for assistive technology below.

Donate to the Nicole Kahn Endowment Fund for Assistive Technology here.

In the fall of 2022, Nicole Kahn, a beloved wife, daughter, sister, aunt, friend and Cleveland Sight Center staff member passed away, leaving behind a legacy of courage, love, compassion and inspiration.Nicole speaks into a microphone while holding her white cane at a party.

Assistive technology was a constant companion in Nicole’s life.

Nicole lost her sight at a very young age and we're keenly aware of the role that assistive technology played in her schooling, training and enjoyment of life," said her parents, Susan and Ron Kahn.

Because of this impact and to honor their daughter’s legacy, Susan and Ron established The Nicole Kahn Endowment Fund for Assistive Technology. This fund was designed to ensure Cleveland Sight Center clients have the ability to purchase the life-changing assistive technology they need to achieve their goals.

As the name implies, assistive technology is any tool used to simplify life fo​r people with disabilities and is used to help people with vision loss overcome barriers they may face in navigating a sighted world. Cleveland Sight Center is incredibly honored to share Nicole’s story and keep her legacy alive through this fund.

Nicole as a child riding a tricycle with a big smile on her face.

Nicole filled up every room with laughter and kindness. She was fluent in French, played piano and graduated among the top 10 students in her high school class. She received her bachelor’s degree, pursued post-graduate education, married the love of her life and traveled. She was always smiling and rarely complained.  

Nicole and her family were introduced to Cleveland Sight Center shortly after she was born.  As an infant she was diagnosed with retinoblastoma that resulted in her becoming totally blind by age two.  When she was a toddler Nicole’s family received services through CSC’s Early Intervention program.  As a youngster Nicole participated in activities at CSC’s camp, Highbrook Lodge. 

Nicole was mainstreamed in the Shaker Heights Schools as soon as she had mastered braille and touch typing. It was at that time Nicole was introduced to assistive technologyNicole reads Hebrew braille for her Bat Mitzvah that allowed her to excel in school. Instead of using a pencil and paper to take notes, Nicole had a braille note taker, braille printer and a scanner that would convert written text to braille or audio. After graduating high school, she attended Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.  

Driving to college, the Kahn’s family car was filled to the brim with everything Nicole would need, and not just the essentials like bed sheets and clothing. Their car was filled with Nicole’s assistive technology, essentials to her life as well!

Assistive technology made college possible,” said Susan. “It enabled Nicole to compete with her sighted peers.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree with honors, Nicole pursued training at Michigan State University to become a Board-Certified Music Therapist. She returned to Cleveland in 2002 and established her own practice. Working with seniors in nursing homes, with Alzheimer’s patients and in day centers with adults with developmental issues, Nicole always found opportunities to share her talents and connect with others. Shortly after, Nicole met her husband, Mark Poorman, through an app in the early days of online dating.

Nicole in her wedding dress, holding a bouquet of cream colored roses and posing with her yellow lab guide dog.More thanks to technology!” Ron jokingly said.

In 2012, Nicole closed her practice and became an employee at Cleveland Sight Center, a place near and dear to her heart. She began working with CSC clients first as a peer advocate and later as an employment specialist. She continued her career at CSC as an assistive technology trainer, a role that was perfect for her.

Around the time Nicole took the role of assistive technology trainer, she was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive cancer, but she did her best not to allow her health battle to interfere with her work with her clients. She knew that someone with vision loss could do almost anything a sighted person could do, and she embodied this in her teaching. 

Nicole plays a tambourine during a music therapy session.

Nicole took advantage of whatever was available in the tech field to make her life easier and to allow her to do things, either in terms of employment or everyday life,” Susan said, “and she was incredibly passionate about showing clients how assistive technology could impact their lives as it had hers.”

Cleveland Sight Center is incredibly thankful for the generosity and commitment of her family in creating The Nicole Kahn Endowment Fund for Assistive Technology. This Endowment Fund will give Cleveland Sight Center clients access to the life-changing assistive technology that Nicole used throughout her life.

"Assistive technology levels the playing field and allows individuals with visual impairments to compete with their sighted peers. So, we hope this fund helps somebody who couldn't otherwise afford it to get the assistive technology they need," said Ron.

This fund is a testament to Nicole, how she lived her life and the people who love her. We are committed to honoring her legacy and supporting other blind and visually impaired individuals in pursuit of their dreams and goals.