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

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

1. Full Metal Racket

This post by New Republic was one of several posts published in 2016 highlighting the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss today is the leading disability for veterans (topping even PTSD).

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

Now that awareness has been raised, the military is working on developing helmets that mitigate loud blasts while amplifying ambient sound.

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

We’re fortunate to see several stories each year about people overcoming hearing loss to accomplish remarkable things. But once in awhile one comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right frame of mind and determination.

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

That, by the way, makes her trilingual despite an ailment that makes speech comprehension quite difficult.

3. 5 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Hearing Loss

Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate that has done great things for the hearing loss community by raising awareness of the day-to-day issues facing those with hearing loss.

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

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

This is one of several articles warning about the risks of earbud use and the expanding number of teens with hearing loss.

It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing damage due to dangerous listening practices, but that most teens are not hearing the message.

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

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

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

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

In response to the escalating problem of acquiring hearing loss and tinnitus at concerts, Pearl Jam supplied earplugs to fans at its concerts in an action that hopefully catches on with other bands.

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

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

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

However this particular 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 most effective ways to increase awareness of hearing loss and reduce the stigma of hearing aids is to have a prominent public figure speak on the topic.

In this article, FUBU founder, Shark Tank star, investor, and best-selling author John Daymond talks about how he beat 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 dedicated to hiring deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as an essential part of the company’s objective to increase opportunities for marginalized groups.

10 of the store’s 13 staff members 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 detect the inner ear proteins correlated with inner ear conditions like hearing loss and vertigo.

Perhaps the early catching of hearing loss will before long be a standard component of the yearly 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 investigation for the cure for tinnitus continued in 2016, with multiple promising breakthroughs.

Tinnitus is challenging to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments available today either conceal the sound or advise the patient on how to cope with the sound.

However now scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered the first gene that might be able 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 better hearing aids and better training programs to help those with hearing loss to maximize speech recognition.

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

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

Hidden hearing loss could be present even in young people who can pass a regular hearing test.

Research is underway that can improve the accuracy of hearing testing and expose hearing damage in young people, with consequences including more efficient hearing protection, improved workplace noise guidelines, and highly targeted medical therapies.

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

And finally, here are eight 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 experiencing all of the rewards of better hearing.


What did we leave out? What were your favorite stories of 2016?