One of the first deaf people to earn an academic teaching degree in New York State has died over the weekend at the age of 94. Robert Panara was also the first deaf professor at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester.

Born a hearing person in the Bronx, Panara became profoundly deaf after suffering meningitis when he was 10. He became the first non-hearing person to earn a master's in English from New York University and was already a recognized expert in education of the deaf when he was asked in 1965 to sit on the national advisory board that led to the founding of NTID. He joined the faculty in 1967, founded the English Department and retired in 1987.