Woman holding her hand to her ear

This has been an active year for hearing health, full of new developments, exciting research, and motivating stories of individuals overcoming hearing loss to achieve great things.

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

1. Full Metal Racket

This post by New Republic was one of several articles released in 2016 emphasizing the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss now represents the leading disability for veterans (topping even PTSD).

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

Now that awareness has been raised, the military is focusing on developing helmets that minimize loud blasts while increasing surrounding sound.

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

We’re grateful to witness several stories each year about people conquering hearing loss to achieve remarkable things. However every once in a while one story comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right perspective and perseverance.

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

Which, by the way, makes her trilingual despite a condition 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 wonderful things for the hearing loss community by raising awareness of the day-to-day issues facing individuals with hearing loss.

In one of her most popular articles on her blog Living With Hearing Loss, Eberts talks about 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 among several articles cautioning 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 damage caused by unsafe 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 good reminder for musicians and concert-goers to protect their hearing during live shows.

AC/DC had to delay its tour in the US due to frontman Brian Johnson’s hearing condition. Doctors instructed 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 escalating problem of acquiring hearing loss and tinnitus at live shows, Pearl Jam provided earplugs to fans at its concerts in an action that hopefully catches on with other bands.

A number of musicians currently 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 several of these videos every year, videos 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 best ways to increase awareness of hearing loss and reduce the stigma of hearing aids is to have a well known public figure speak on the issue.

In this article, FUBU founder, Shark Tank star, investor, and best-selling author John Daymond discusses 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 new store dedicated to hiring deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as an essential part of the company’s objective to expand opportunities for marginalized groups.

10 of the store’s 13 staff members are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Staff members communicate mainly with sign-language, and customers without hearing loss can record their orders on cards.

10. Detecting Hearing Loss, Vertigo Via Blood Tests

This is a fascinating article reminding us of how aggressively technology progresses.

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

Perhaps the early detection of hearing loss will before long 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 investigation for the cure for tinnitus continued in 2016, with multiple promising findings.

Tinnitus is challenging to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments available today either mask the sound or advise the patient on how to deal 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 find out more and more 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 enhance speech recognition.

Stay tuned in 2017 for additional developments 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 standard hearing test.

Research is ongoing that can enhance the accuracy of hearing testing and expose hearing damage in young people, with ramifications including more effective hearing protection, better workplace noise standards, and targeted medical treatments.

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

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


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

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