RIT/NTID’s Robert Panara to be honored in stamp dedication event April 11

Ceremony is open to the public; opportunities available to purchase the stamps during the event

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Robert Panara, NTID’s first deaf faculty member, will be honored with a stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service in a ceremony in Panara Theatre on April 11.

The First-Day-of-Issue dedication ceremony for the Robert Panara two-ounce Forever stamp will take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 11, in Panara Theatre, Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall, Rochester Institute of Technology. The event is free and open to the public.

The program will feature David Williams, U.S. Postal Service chief operating officer; Gerard Buckley, president of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf and RIT vice president and dean; John Panara, NTID instructional/support faculty member and Robert Panara’s son; Mark Benjamin, stamp photographer; and Harry Lang, author and NTID professor emeritus.

The public can RSVP online at usps.com/rpanara. Followers of the U.S. Postal Service Facebook page can view live streaming video of the event at facebook.com/USPS, and are asked to use the hashtags #PanaraForever and #DeafEducation on social media.

The U.S. Postal Service’s 16th stamp in the Distinguished Americans series honors Robert Panara (1920-2014), 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. At age 10, Panara was profoundly deafened after contracting spinal meningitis, which damaged his auditory nerves.

Panara taught English for two decades, beginning in 1948, at Gallaudet College (now University), in Washington, D.C. In 1967, he helped found NTID and became its first deaf faculty member. For the next 20 years, he taught English to both deaf and hearing students at NTID.

The two-ounce Forever stamp features a photograph of Panara signing the word “respect.” The issuance coincides with the 200th anniversary of the founding in 1817 of the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Conn., marking the beginning of formal education for deaf students in America.

Once purchased, the stamp can be used for mailing two-ounce, first-class letters anytime in the future, regardless of price changes. The current price is 70 cents.