Woman holding her hand to her ear

This has been a lively year for hearing health, filled with new developments, exciting research, and encouraging stories of individuals overcoming hearing loss to achieve great things.

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

1. Full Metal Racket

This post by New Republic was one of several articles released in 2016 highlighting the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss today represents the leading disability for veterans (leading even PTSD).

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

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

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

We’re fortunate to witness a number of stories each year about people overcoming hearing loss to achieve incredible things. But every now and then one comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right perspective and perseverance.

Caroline Aufgebauer, a high school senior, worked around her hearing loss to learn not one, not two, but three languages. She speaks English, Spanish, and Latin (earning special recognition for her performance on the national Spanish exam) and has a basic understanding 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 wonderful things for the hearing loss community by growing awareness of the day-to-day issues facing those with hearing loss.

In one of her top articles on her website Living With Hearing Loss, Eberts identifies 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 several articles warning about the dangers of earbud use and the escalating number of teens with hearing loss.

It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing damage due to 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 live performances.

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

Several musicians currently are suffering from 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 each 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 eliminate the stigma of hearing aids is to have a notable public figure speak on the subject.

In this article, 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 changed 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 recruiting deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as a key part of the company’s objective to increase 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 write down their orders on cards.

10. Detecting Hearing Loss, Vertigo Via Blood Tests

This is a fascinating article reminding us of how aggressively technology progresses.

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

Perhaps the early detection of hearing loss will soon be a standard 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 promising developments.

Tinnitus is challenging to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments available today either conceal the sound or advise the patient on how to cope with the sound.

However now scientists 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 find out more and more how the brain processes and interprets sound and speech, we can begin developing better hearing aids and better training programs to help those with hearing loss to augment speech recognition.

Stay tuned in 2017 for additional breakthroughs 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 accuracy of hearing testing and uncover hearing damage in young people, with ramifications 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 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 rewards of better hearing.


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