Woman holding her hand to her ear

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

Just in case you missed it, here’s a review 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 currently represents the leading disability for veterans (leading even PTSD).

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

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

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

We’re fortunate to witness several stories each year about people overcoming hearing loss to achieve extraordinary things. But from time to time 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 her 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 understanding of German.

That, by the way, makes her trilingual in spite of 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 boosting awareness of the everyday 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 warning about the risks of earbud use and the increasing number of teens with hearing loss.

It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing damage as a consequence of 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 good reminder for musicians and concert-goers to safeguard their hearing during the course of live shows.

AC/DC had to delay its tour in the US as a consequence of frontman Brian Johnson’s hearing loss. Doctors instructed Johnson to stop touring immediately or risk complete hearing loss.

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

Responding to the escalating problem of developing 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.

Several musicians currently suffer from hearing loss and tinnitus due to 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 a number of 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. 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 most effective ways to increase awareness of hearing loss and eliminate the stigma of hearing aids is to have a well known public figure speak on the issue.

In this post, 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 opened a brand new store committed to hiring deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as a key part of the company’s mission to expand 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 record their orders on note cards.

10. Detecting Hearing Loss, Vertigo Via Blood Tests

This is a cool 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 associated with inner ear disorders like hearing loss and vertigo.

Perhaps the early catching of hearing loss will before long be a routine 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 encouraging developments.

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

But now researchers 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 about how the brain processes and interprets sound and speech, we can begin developing more effective hearing aids and better programs to help those with hearing loss to heighten speech recognition.

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

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

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

Research is ongoing that can enhance the precision of hearing testing and uncover hearing damage 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 start the new year than by taking charge of your hearing health and making the most of all of the rewards of better hearing.


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