Woman holding her hand to her ear

This has been a lively year for hearing health, filled with new developments, exciting research, and inspiring stories of people 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 post by New Republic was one of many articles published in 2016 emphasizing the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss now is the number one disability for veterans (leading even PTSD).

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

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

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

We’re grateful to witness several stories each year about individuals overcoming hearing loss to achieve remarkable things. But once in awhile one story 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 different languages. She speaks English, Spanish, and Latin (earning special recognition for her performance on the national Spanish exam) and has a basic familiarity with German.

Which, by the way, makes her trilingual in spite of 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 wonderful things for the hearing loss community by raising awareness of the daily issues facing individuals with hearing loss.

In one of her popular articles on her website Living With Hearing Loss, Eberts describes 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 among many articles cautioning about the negative effects of earbud use and the expanding number of teens with hearing loss.

It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing injury caused by unsafe 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-goers to safeguard their hearing during the course of live performances.

AC/DC had to delay its tour in the US as a consequence of lead singer Brian Johnson’s hearing condition. Doctors advised Johnson to stop touring immediately or risk total hearing loss.

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

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

Several musicians presently are suffering from hearing loss and tinnitus due to 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 each year, videos of a child hearing for the first time with the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants.

But this specific video was the most watched of 2016. See for yourself 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 notable 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 enhanced his life.

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

Starbucks has opened a new store committed to recruiting deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as part of the company’s mission to increase opportunities for marginalized groups.

10 of the store’s 13 employees are hard-of-hearing or deaf. Staff members communicate principally 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 a cool article reminding us of how rapidly technology advances.

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

Perhaps the early catching of hearing loss will soon be a routine part 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 findings.

Tinnitus is tough to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments available now 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 uncovered the first gene that may have the ability to prevent tinnitus.

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

As we find out more information on how the brain processes and interprets sound and speech, we can begin developing better hearing aids and more efficient training programs to help those with hearing loss to elevate 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 adults who can pass a regular hearing test.

Research is ongoing that can enhance the precision of hearing testing and uncover hearing problems in young people, with consequences including more efficient hearing protection, improved workplace noise guidelines, and highly targeted medical treatments.

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 start the new year than by taking charge of your hearing health and experiencing all of the benefits of better hearing.


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

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