New Stamp Honors Deaf Education Pioneer

Robert Panara taught English for two decades at Gallaudet College in Washington, D.C. He helped found the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in 1967 and became its first deaf faculty member.

The U.S. Postal Service will soon issue the 16th stamp in the Distinguished Americans series, and this new stamp honors Robert Panara (1920-2014), described by the agency as "an influential teacher and a pioneer in the field of Deaf Studies. He inspired generations of students with his powerful use of American Sign Language to convey works of literature."

USPS has set the first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony for the Robert Panara two-ounce Forever stamp -- an event that is free and open to the public -- for April 11 at the Robert F. Panara Theatre, Rochester Institute of Technology, National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, N.Y.

According to USPS, at age 10, Panara was profoundly deafened after contracting spinal meningitis. He taught English for two decades at Gallaudet College (now Gallaudet University) in Washington, D.C., and helped found the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in 1967 and became its first deaf faculty member. He taught English to both deaf and hearing students at NTID, part of the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York State for the next 20 years.

The stamp is a photo of Panara signing the word "respect," and it is being issued in conjunction with the 200th anniversary of the founding of the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Conn., the start of formal education for deaf students in America. The stamp will be good for mailing two-ounce First Class letters any time in the future, regardless of price changes, and its current price is 70 cents.

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