Michele J. Bornert is a freelance writer, Deaf artist, ASL teacher, mother, and wife based in Grand Rapids, MI.
What? Not enough information? OK. OK. Here’s a tad bit more……. (WARNING: THIS IS WAAAAAY TOO MUCH INFORMATION AND IS NOT ACTUALLY MEANT TO BE READ.....at least by sane people!!!)
Michele was born partially deaf in Belleville, IL, at the age of zero. She became fully deaf after speech acquisition. Her main method of communication is via American Sign Language, though she can voice for herself just fine. Seems some people just can’t comprehend that a person can be stone deaf and still speak clearly. So, although you can’t really tell the difference between her speech and a hearing person’s speech, she still tends to resort to writing with hearing people while in public. It should be mentioned that she cannot lipread to save her life…even people she’s known all of her life. There’s just no skill there, so don’t try.
Michele’s family moved from Belleville, IL, to Richardson, TX, when she was three years old. After a short bit there, they moved on to Stafford (now Meadows), TX. Still having some residual hearing, Michele ventured into the realm of theatrical performance. Her first role ever was as the letter ‘T’ (as in “Telephone Pole”) in a Meadows Elementary School 3rd grade production about (shock!) the alphabet. From there, there was no stopping her. She first performed professionally in Houston, TX, with the touring company, Theatre On Wheels, and then joined Stages Repertory Theatre at the age of 14, as one of the youngest interns excepted into the theatre’s program at that time. At age 12, she was signed by the Sherry Young Model & Talent Agency and began attending commercial auditions. She did appear on Houston's "Kid Talk," a weekend news show hosted by kids.
Michele continued to perform in many different professional and community theatres, located in several different states, until she completely lost her hearing. Now she’s lucky to even carry some semblance of a tune and, because she can’t hear herself, tends to scream and wreak havoc on any and all Broadway songs. It’s downright scary, folks. Nonetheless, some her favorite performances include “Extremities,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Nunsense,” “The Sound of Music,” “Into the Woods,” "The Odd Couple (Female Version)," "Assassins," "Anything Goes," "South Pacific," "Agnes of God," and “Steel Magnolias.”
After living in Texas for a total of 12 years, her family moved on to Brandon, FL, where she attended high school in Valrico for nine months. They then ventured back to the Belleville, IL, area, where Michele finished high school a semester early and in the top 30% of her class.
When Michele was six years old, she announced to her mother that she was bound and determined to be a writer when she grew up. The acting and singing thing just kind of took on a life of its own, but writing never left her. In fact, when she attended Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, she adored her classes in English language and composition and journalism.
In 2000, though Michele wasn’t 100% for it, she underwent cochlear implant surgery in her left ear. It was useless. A total failure and, if she could go back, she says she would NOT try it again. Later that same year, the same surgery-eager doctor decided to sever the auditory nerve in her right ear to try to tame symptoms of tinnitus. It didn’t work, but, between the implant and the severing, Michele is now completely, totally, and irreversibly, stone deaf. Oh, and the implant was removed a few years later due to medical necessity.
In 2001, Michele and her crew decided to venture out and relocate in west Michigan. Although she’d been teaching sign language for a while, it wasn’t until 2004 that she realized that there was a real need for this type of education in her area. She and Kenny decided to open their business, Deaf Expressions. Providing classes and tutoring in American Sign Language, Deaf Culture, and hearing loss, the company was well received.
As for what Michele likes to do, besides writing (YAY!) and teaching ASL, of course, she loves being creative! Random interests include watching captioned movies, reading, collecting quotes, occasionally scrapbooking, and hanging out with her family.She enjoys spending leisurely amounts of time in the bookstores and libraries alike.
If you would like to contact Michele with a question, comment, blog post topic request, or to hire her to create/write something for you, Michele can be reached by email at: DeafExpressions05@gmail.com. Oh! And be sure to LIKE Deaf Expressions on Facebook. Your support is much appreciated!!