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Robert Panara - First Deaf To Be On US Stamp

VIDEO [CC] - Deaf News: Robert Panara, became the first National Institute for the Deaf faculty member to be featured on a United States postage stamp.

ROCHESTER, NY -- Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Robert Panara, who was the first Deaf faculty member at Rochester Institute of Technology's National Institute for the Deaf, knew no limits for what a Deaf person could accomplish.

As a tribute to his achievements, Panara will be honored on a new U.S. postage stamp showing him signing the word "respect."

Panara, who died in 2014 at age 94, joined the NTID faculty in 1967 and for two decades was an inspirational and innovative educator, as he had been previously at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

Robert Panara, A Profile. Video Credit: DCMP.

"During his 40-year teaching career, Panara inspired generations of students with his powerful use of American Sign Language," said the Postal Service, in its announcement Tuesday that the new stamp featuring Panara will be part of the Distinguished Americans series.

The stamp was designed by Ethel Kessler, art director for the Postal Service, and based on an image taken by RIT/NTID photographer Mark Benjamin.

Panara's son, John, who is an English instructor at NTID, sent an email to the NTID community Tuesday saying that the "picture on the stamp is one that you certainly are familiar with, for it has been seen often around campus the last few years, in offices and on hallway walls."

Benjamin's photograph of his father signing the word "respect," John Panara added, is a "theme that will 'ring out loud and free' (to borrow a line from my dad's famous poem) every time the stamp is placed on an envelope!"

John Panara said that when he received an email a year ago telling him that the Postal Service's Stamp Advisory Committee had recommended the issuance of a stamp of his father, he read the email over and over again to make sure he wasn't dreaming.

Harry Lang, a professor emeritus at NTID and author of Teaching from the Heart and Soul: The Robert F. Panara Story, posted on Facebook: "What a nice Thanksgiving present! Bob is certainly looking down with his famous smile right now."

Lang, who was an adviser to the Postal Service on the stamp, noted in the foreword to his biography that the senior Panara was a poet, author, lecturer and theater aficionado.

Panara, Lang wrote, was largely self-educated at a time accommodations were not available for Deaf children.

"He was also among the first wave of Deaf scholars in the twentieth century, and a pioneer in the field of Deaf Studies," Lang noted.

Panara's poem "On His Deafness," written in 1946, has been reprinted many times and won first prize in the World of Poetry contest in 1988. Lang, in his biography of Panara, said the poem is about "how Deaf people can 'hear' with an 'inner ear' of imagination." ... Read The Full Story - Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
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