Woman holding her hand to her ear

This has been a hectic year for hearing health, full of new developments, fascinating research, and motivating stories of individuals overcoming hearing loss to achieve great things.

In case you missed it, here’s a review of the year’s 15 best stories.

1. Full Metal Racket

This article by New Republic was one of many articles published in 2016 featuring the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss currently is the number one disability for veterans (topping even PTSD).

In fact, the Department of Veteran Affairs states that 60 percent of those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan (around 600,000) have permanent hearing loss or ringing in ears.

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

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

We’re grateful to see several stories each year about individuals conquering hearing loss to achieve remarkable things. However on occasion one comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right attitude and perseverance.

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 in spite of a condition 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 great things for the hearing loss community by building awareness of the daily issues facing those with hearing loss.

In one of her top articles on her website Living With Hearing Loss, Eberts talks about 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 many articles cautioning about the hazards of earbud use and the escalating number of teens with hearing loss.

It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing problems from dangerous 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-attendees to protect their hearing during 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 escalating 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.

A number of musicians currently are afflicted with hearing loss and tinnitus as a consequence of 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 every 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. 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 raise awareness of hearing loss and reduce the stigma of hearing aids is to have a famous public figure speak on the issue.

In this post, 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 enhanced 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 recruiting deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as part of the company’s objective to increase opportunities for marginalized groups.

10 of the store’s 13 staff members are deaf or hard-of-hearing. 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 rapidly technology progresses.

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

Perhaps the early catching 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 investigation for the cure for tinnitus continued in 2016, with multiple promising developments.

Tinnitus is difficult to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments now available either cover up the sound or instruct the patient on how to deal with the sound.

However now researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have uncovered 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 find out more and more 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 strengthen speech recognition.

Stay tuned in 2017 for further breakthroughs in the vital 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 underway that can enhance the precision of hearing testing and expose hearing problems in young people, with consequences including more efficient hearing protection, better workplace noise standards, and targeted medical therapies.

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 charge of your hearing health and enjoying all of the rewards of better hearing.


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