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

Just 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 released in 2016 featuring the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss currently represents 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 irreversible hearing loss or tinnitus.

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

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

We’re grateful to see several stories each year about people conquering hearing loss to achieve incredible things. However every once in a while one story comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right frame of mind and determination.

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 familiarity with German.

That, by the way, makes her trilingual despite an ailment 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 wonders for the hearing loss community by growing awareness of the day-to-day issues facing those with hearing loss.

In one of her top posts on her blog Living With Hearing Loss, Eberts explains 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 hazards of earbud use and the growing number of teens with hearing loss.

It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing problems due to unsafe 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 good reminder for musicians and concert-goers to protect their hearing during the course of live shows.

AC/DC had to put off its tour in the US due to frontman Brian Johnson’s hearing loss. Doctors advised Johnson to stop touring right away or risk total hearing loss.

6. Pearl Jam providing earplugs at upcoming concerts to prevent hearing loss

In response to the escalating problem of developing hearing loss and tinnitus at live events, Pearl Jam provided earplugs to fans at its concerts in an action 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 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 quite a few 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 specific 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 eliminate the stigma of hearing aids is to have a popular public figure speak on the issue.

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 new store committed to employing deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as an important 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. Workers 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 fascinating article reminding us of how rapidly technology progresses.

Dr. Kourosh Parham, a UConn physician-scientist, has introduced the first blood test that can detect the inner ear proteins correlated with inner ear disorders 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 search for the cure for tinnitus continued in 2016, with several promising breakthroughs.

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

But now scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered 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 more effective hearing aids and more efficient training programs to help those with hearing loss to elevate speech recognition.

Stay tuned in 2017 for further 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 younger people who can pass a regular hearing test.

Research is ongoing that can enhance the precision of hearing testing and expose hearing problems in young people, with consequences including more effective 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 very good 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 advantages of better hearing.

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