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This has been an active year for hearing health, packed with new developments, exciting research, and inspiring 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 several posts released in 2016 featuring 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 from Iraq and Afghanistan (approximately 600,000) have irreparable hearing loss or ringing in ears.

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

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

We’re fortunate to see a number of stories each year about individuals overcoming hearing loss to accomplish incredible things. However every now and then one comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right mindset and determination.

Caroline Aufgebauer, a high school senior, worked around the challenge of 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 understanding 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 wonders for the hearing loss community by building awareness of the daily issues facing individuals with hearing loss.

In one of her top articles on her website 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 many articles warning about the negative effects of earbud use and the escalating number of teens with hearing loss.

It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing damage as a result 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 great reminder for musicians and concert-goers to protect their hearing during live shows.

AC/DC had to put off its tour in the United States due to lead singer Brian Johnson’s hearing loss. Doctors advised Johnson to stop touring right away or risk complete 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 provided earplugs to fans at its concerts in an action that we hope catches on with other bands.

Several 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 a variety of of these videos every 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 best ways to increase awareness of hearing loss and reduce the stigma of hearing aids is to have a distinguished public figure speak on the topic.

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 new store dedicated to employing deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as an integral part of the company’s objective 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 rapidly technology progresses.

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

Perhaps the early diagnosis of hearing loss will before long be a routine component 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 search for the cure for tinnitus continued in 2016, with several encouraging breakthroughs.

Tinnitus is tough to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments available today either cover up the sound or advise the patient on how to deal with the sound.

But now researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have uncovered 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 information on how the brain processes and interprets sound and speech, we can begin developing more effective hearing aids and better training programs to help those with hearing loss to augment speech recognition.

Stay tuned in 2017 for additional developments 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 young adults who can pass a regular hearing test.

Research is underway that can enhance the accuracy of hearing testing and uncover hearing damage in young people, with consequences including more efficient hearing protection, better workplace noise standards, and targeted medical treatments.

15. 8 Rousing Reasons to Put a Hearing Test at the Top of Your “Done” List

Finally, here are eight great 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 experiencing all of the rewards of better hearing.


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

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