Woman holding her hand to her ear

This has been a hectic year for hearing health, packed with new developments, exciting research, and encouraging stories of individuals conquering hearing loss to accomplish great things.

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

1. Full Metal Racket

This article by New Republic was one of many posts published in 2016 highlighting the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss currently represents the number one 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 surrounding 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 incredible things. However from time to time one comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right mindset 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, Latin, and Spanish (earning special recognition for her performance on the national Spanish exam) and has a basic familiarity with German.

That, by the way, makes her trilingual despite 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 wonders for the hearing loss community by building awareness of the daily issues facing those with hearing loss.

In one of her most popular articles on her blog Living With Hearing Loss, Eberts describes 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 of many articles cautioning about the dangers of earbud use and the increasing number of teens with hearing loss.

It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing injury caused by 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 great reminder for musicians and concert-attendees to protect their hearing during the course of live shows.

AC/DC had to put off its tour in the United States as a consequence of frontman Brian Johnson’s hearing loss. Doctors instructed 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 escalating problem of acquiring 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.

A number of musicians currently 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.

However 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 best ways to increase awareness of hearing loss and reduce the stigma of hearing aids is to have a popular 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 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 brand new store dedicated to employing deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as an integral part of the company’s mission to increase opportunities for marginalized groups.

10 of the store’s 13 employees are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Staff members 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 an interesting article reminding us of how aggressively technology advances.

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

Perhaps the early detection of hearing loss will before long be a standard component 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 search for the cure for tinnitus continued in 2016, with multiple encouraging findings.

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

However now researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have identified the first gene that might have the ability to prevent tinnitus.

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

As we learn 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 additional developments in the critical 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 people who can pass a standard hearing test.

Research is underway that can enhance the precision of hearing testing and expose hearing problems 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

And last, 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 control of your hearing health and enjoying all of the benefits of better hearing.


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