Woman holding her hand to her ear

This has been a lively year for hearing health, full of new developments, fascinating research, and inspiring stories of people conquering hearing loss to achieve great things.

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 posts 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 irreversible hearing loss or tinnitus.

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

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

We’re privileged to see a number of stories each year about individuals overcoming hearing loss to accomplish remarkable things. However once in awhile one story comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right state of mind and perseverance.

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

That, 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 wonderful things for the hearing loss community by raising awareness of the everyday issues facing those with hearing loss.

In one of her more popular posts on her blog Living With Hearing Loss, Eberts identifies 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 cautioning 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 from 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-attendees to protect their hearing during live shows.

AC/DC had to put off its tour in the US as a consequence of 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

Responding to the growing problem of acquiring hearing loss and tinnitus at live events, Pearl Jam provided earplugs to fans at its concerts in a move that we hope catches on with other bands.

A number of musicians presently 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 quite a few of these videos every year, video clips of a child hearing for the first time with the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants.

But this particular 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 reduce the stigma of hearing aids is to have a prominent public figure speak on the subject.

In this post, FUBU founder, Shark Tank star, investor, and best-selling author John Daymond talks about how he overcame 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 brand 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 staff members are hard-of-hearing or deaf. Employees communicate principally 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 conditions like hearing loss and vertigo.

Perhaps the early catching 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 several encouraging developments.

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

However now researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have identified the first gene that may be able to prevent tinnitus.

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

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

Stay tuned in 2017 for additional breakthroughs in the crucial 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 underway that can improve the accuracy of hearing testing and expose hearing damage in young people, with ramifications including more efficient hearing protection, improved workplace noise standards, and highly targeted medical therapies.

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 commence the new year than by taking charge of your hearing health and enjoying all of the advantages of better hearing.


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