Lack of hearing doesn’t slow down ability to communicate

A cochlear implant helps Pearlman hear. (Courtesy of Jamie Pearlman)

McKenzie Sixt

Jamie Perlman would live in a silent world without a cochlear implant device to assist her hearing along with her ability to read lips and body gestures. Together, these allow her to go about daily activities experiencing life despite describing herself as a primarily deaf individual.

Perlman, 26, is an environmental studies major at Saddleback College. She is also part of the college’s Environmental Awareness Club, and has support from the Disabled Student Placement Services.

Throughout her life, Perlman has not allowed her disability to keep her from following her passions for art and the outdoors.

Perlman’s love for arts led her to Rochester Institute of Technology in New York where she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2008.

“I love traveling, walking, and enjoying the richness of natural habitats found within our environments,” Perlman said.

She also spent time as a Corps-member with the California Conservation Corps. Doing physical labor for the first time in her life was “the most enriching experience to have worked outside during all four seasons of the year,” Perlman said of her time with the CCC.

Based on Perlman’s involvement in the Environmental Awareness Club, Earth Week, and efforts to provide carpooling to campus it may come as a surprise that this spring semester is her first at Saddleback.

Perlman joined the Environmental Awareness Club because she is motivated for true action on reducing the carbon footprint, she said, and wanted to find others on campus who had the same goals of helping the environment.

Sharing that motivation, and her friend are working to find someone to carpool with from Newport to Saddleback. She is looking to save money and the environment by carpooling to campus.

“I feel guilty when driving solo,” said, “our gas and oil that drip on the roads get carried away to water sources from the rains and destroy wildlife habitats.”

She has yet to find a carpool buddy, and would like to put the word out that she is trying to find a willing commuter.

During club meetings and classes at Saddleback, Perlman has Maureen Schiff, a professional sign language interpreter to help her follow and stay involved in discussions.

“Maureen is excellent with her interpretive speed and accuracy,” Perlman said, “along with her facial expressions conveying further grammatical meanings.”

Schiff uses Conceptually Accurate Sign Language (CASE) which is expressed through signing concepts, without English based signs. CASE is different from American Sign Language and allows her to pick up new vocabulary within the curriculum and experience everything heard in the room, including side conversations that may or may not be relevant.

Through the use of CASE, Perlman is able to speak for herself when she participates in class and follow through with her exam studies.

Perlman also finds time to volunteer within her community and at school.

Visitors may catch a glimpse of her sharing about ways to improve the environment this week at one of the many Earth Day events.

Anyone interested in starting a carpool, please contact Jamie at

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