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LJM: Nora Fiffer is an actress who will be appearing in the television show “Chicago Med” this month. She also works for the RoundTable newspaper. She is an Evanston Township High School alumni and was a student in Senior Studies, which is one of the classes offered at ETHS. Here is the Q&A from an interview with Ms. Fiffer earlier this month.
LJM: Where did you grow up?
N: I grew up in Evanston.
LJM: What connection do you have with disabilities?
N: My dad is in a wheelchair and he has been in a wheelchair for a few years. He had a spinal cord injury when he was a teenager so he walked with a cane for many years. He also walked with a cane throughout my childhood. He has done a lot of writing about empowering people with disabilities and so I think from an early age I had an awareness of special people with disabilities and how sometimes they can be underestimated. I was also in senior studies and for my Senior Studies project I taught drama to students the special education program. I developed a theater curriculum for the special education class. So I taught there once a week and learned from the students and what the students’ needs were. Then I developed a lesson plan so the class could have it after I left.
LJM: What is your opinion about the word “disabilities” and how does this impact your work today?
N: We have to be respectful when using language like this to describe individuals so we can be respectful of them. We all have huge talents and abilities and we are all unique. I think you are on to something with planning a new word because the word “disabilities” does not always sound positive.
LJM: Do you like the word “disabilities?” How does it make you feel?
N: It can feel pretty general. A word that can mean a lot of different things. It’s not specific enough to really describe a person’s needs or strengths.
LJM: What quote do you live by?
N: If you think positively, good things will happen.
LJM: Nora’s dad’s story reminds us of how people can be born with a disability or a tragic event could happen where someone could become disabled. Just because you are disabled that doesn’t mean that you have a disability. It means that you are empowered to do what you love and to persevere. This is called an “exceptionality.” While in a wheelchair Nora’s dad, Steve Fiffer, showed how having an exceptionality drives the person to persevere in whatever their mind sets them to do. He did this by becoming an author.