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 recap of the year’s 15 biggest stories.

1. Full Metal Racket

This post by New Republic was one of many posts released in 2016 highlighting the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss now 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 (around 600,000) have permanent hearing loss or tinnitus.

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

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

We’re privileged to witness a number of stories each year about people conquering hearing loss to accomplish incredible things. But from time to time one story comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right attitude and determination.

Caroline Aufgebauer, a high school senior, worked around her 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 knowledge of German.

Which, by the way, makes her trilingual despite an ailment 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 raising awareness of the daily issues facing those with hearing loss.

In one of her most 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 of several articles warning about the hazards of earbud use and the increasing number of teens with hearing loss.

It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing problems from 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 great 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 lead singer Brian Johnson’s hearing condition. Doctors instructed Johnson to stop touring right away or risk total 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 provided earplugs to fans at its concerts in a move that we hope catches on with other bands.

Several musicians currently suffer 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 a variety of of these videos every 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. 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 topic.

In this article, 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 new store committed to employing 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 hard-of-hearing or deaf. Employees communicate primarily 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 interesting article reminding us of how aggressively technology progresses.

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

Perhaps the early diagnosis of hearing loss will before long 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 breakthroughs.

Tinnitus is difficult 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.

However now scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have uncovered 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 understand more and more 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 improve speech recognition.

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

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

Hidden hearing loss can be present even in young adults who can pass a basic hearing test.

Research is underway that can enhance the accuracy of hearing testing and expose hearing damage in young people, with ramifications including better 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 last, here are eight great 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 enjoying all of the rewards of better hearing.


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