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This has been an active year for hearing health, packed with new developments, fascinating research, and motivating stories of individuals conquering hearing loss to achieve great things.

In case you missed it, here’s a recap of the year’s 15 biggest stories.

1. Full Metal Racket

This article by New Republic was one of many posts published in 2016 highlighting the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss today represents the number one disability for veterans (topping even PTSD).

In fact, the Department of Veteran Affairs states that 60 percent of those returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan (about 600,000) have permanent hearing loss or tinnitus.

Now that awareness has been raised, the military is working on creating helmets that minimize loud blasts while increasing ambient sound.

2. When it comes to a challenge, she speaks the language

We’re fortunate to witness several stories each year about people conquering hearing loss to achieve extraordinary things. But once in awhile one comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right attitude and determination.

Caroline Aufgebauer, a high school senior, worked around the obstacle of hearing loss to learn not one, not two, but three languages. She speaks English, Spanish, and Latin (earning special recognition for her performance on the national Spanish exam) and has a basic understanding of German.

Which, by the way, makes her trilingual despite a condition that makes speech comprehension very difficult.

3. 5 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Hearing Loss

Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate that has done amazing things for the hearing loss community by growing awareness of the daily issues facing individuals with hearing loss.

In one of her more popular posts on her website Living With Hearing Loss, Eberts identifies five things she wishes everyone knew about hearing loss.

4. ‘It’s going to get worse’: Nearly 30 percent of teens have hearing damage

This is one of many articles warning about the dangers of earbud use and the escalating number of teens with hearing loss.

It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing problems caused by dangerous listening practices, but that most are not hearing the message.

5. AC/DC Postpone Tour As Brian Johnson Faces ‘Total Hearing Loss’

This story is a good reminder for musicians and concert-attendees to protect their hearing during the course of live performances.

AC/DC had to delay its tour in the US due to frontman Brian Johnson’s hearing loss. Doctors advised Johnson to stop touring immediately or risk complete hearing loss.

6. Pearl Jam providing earplugs at upcoming concerts to prevent hearing loss

In response to the growing problem of developing hearing loss and tinnitus at concerts, Pearl Jam provided earplugs to fans at its concerts in an action that we hope catches on with other bands.

Several musicians currently are dealing with hearing loss and tinnitus as a consequence of a lack of hearing protection at shows, including Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, Ozzy Osbourne, Grimes, and Chris Martin.

7. Watch This Baby’s Face When the Doctor Turns on Her Hearing Aids for the First Time

We see quite a few of these videos each year, video clips of a child hearing for the first time with the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants.

However this specific video was the most watched of 2016. Check it out and try not to smile while you’re watching.

8. ‘Shark Tank’ star Daymond John: High-tech hearing aids changed my life

One of the best ways to increase awareness of hearing loss and eliminate the stigma of hearing aids is to have a notable public figure speak on the subject.

In this post, FUBU founder, Shark Tank star, investor, and best-selling author John Daymond discusses how he overcame hearing loss and how high-tech hearing aids have changed his life.

9. The cool reason you won’t hear baristas shouting drink orders at this Starbucks

Starbucks has launched a brand new store committed to employing deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as part of the company’s objective to increase opportunities for marginalized groups.

10 of the store’s 13 employees are hard-of-hearing or deaf. Workers communicate mainly with sign-language, and customers without hearing loss can write down their orders on cards.

10. Detecting Hearing Loss, Vertigo Via Blood Tests

This is an intriguing article reminding us of how quickly technology progresses.

Dr. Kourosh Parham, a UConn physician-scientist, has introduced the first blood test that can recognize the inner ear proteins correlated with inner ear disorders like hearing loss and vertigo.

Perhaps the early diagnosis of hearing loss will soon be a standard part of the annual physical exam.

11. How I ‘came out’ about my hearing disability

This inspiring story is about how photographer Kate Disher-Quill finally came to accept her hearing loss and embrace and love her hearing aids.

Kate’s project, Right Hear, Right Now, is designed to empower people to accept and embrace their differences. It’s something she wishes she had access to when she was younger, something that could have inspired her to accept her own hearing loss sooner than she did.

12. When silencing phantom noises is a matter of science

The search for the cure for tinnitus continued in 2016, with multiple promising developments.

Tinnitus is tough to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments currently available either mask the sound or guide the patient on how to deal with the sound.

But now researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have identified the first gene that might have the ability to prevent tinnitus.

13. Researchers identify part of the brain that compensates for hearing loss in older adults

As we learn more information on how the brain processes and interprets sound and speech, we can begin developing more effective hearing aids and more efficient training programs to help those with hearing loss to improve speech recognition.

Stay tuned in 2017 for further breakthroughs in the vital area of speech comprehension.

14. What Is ‘Hidden Hearing Loss’? Scientists Detect Symptoms In Young Adults

Hidden hearing loss could be present even in younger people who can pass a standard hearing test.

Research is underway that can enhance the precision of hearing testing and uncover hearing problems in young people, with consequences including better hearing protection, better workplace noise standards, and highly targeted medical treatments.

15. 8 Rousing Reasons to Put a Hearing Test at the Top of Your “Done” List

Finally, here are eight very good reasons to get a hearing test, published by Better Hearing Institute. There’s no better way to commence the new year than by taking control of your hearing health and enjoying all of the benefits of better hearing.


What did we miss? What were your favorite stories of 2016?