Biography: Ella Mae Lentz

Upon discovering the word “Deafhood” coined by Dr. Paddy Ladd of Bristol University Centre for Deaf Studies, Ella has been challenged to seek justice for Deaf people by unshackling the Deaf community in which she grew up and identifies with from Audism and Oralism.

Born in Berkeley, California, to wonderful Deaf parents and a vibrant Deaf community in the mid-1950’s, she grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area during the 1960’s, and witnessed not only protests against war and racism but the beginning of Deaf Resurgence. Upon graduating from the California School for the Deaf, Berkeley, in 1971, she went on to Gallaudet University where she had her epiphany about American Sign Language launching her into a career of teaching, training instructors and interpreters, performing poetry and helping with linguistic research.

Recently retired from 16 years of full-time teaching ASL and Deaf Culture at Berkeley City College (formerly Vista Community College), Ella’s immediate goal is to complete the major updating of Signing Naturally curriculum series of which she is a co-author. Her long-term goals include promoting academic excellence in American Sign Language and healthy Deafhood discourse among all Deaf people as well as in the public.

Ella has been blessed to raise five kids with her partner, Judy Gough, and being a proud grandmother of seven kids (one is Deaf) with an eighth one on way. She especially enjoys her many pets: five dogs (two are deaf), five cats (none is deaf), and two llamas.