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This has been a lively year for hearing health, filled with new developments, exciting research, and motivating stories of individuals conquering 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 post by New Republic was one of several articles published in 2016 featuring the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss today is the number one disability for veterans (leading even PTSD).

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

Now that awareness has been raised, the military is focusing on creating helmets that minimize loud blasts while amplifying ambient 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 conquering hearing loss to accomplish incredible things. However every once in a while 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, Latin, and Spanish (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 in spite of 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 amazing things for the hearing loss community by growing awareness of the daily issues facing those with hearing loss.

In one of her top posts on her blog 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 among several articles warning about the risks of earbud use and the growing number of teens with hearing loss.

It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing problems caused by 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 safeguard their hearing during live performances.

AC/DC had to put off its tour in the United States as a consequence of frontman Brian Johnson’s hearing condition. Doctors instructed Johnson to stop touring right away or risk total hearing loss.

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

Responding to the growing problem of acquiring hearing loss and tinnitus at concerts, Pearl Jam supplied earplugs to fans at its concerts in a move that we hope catches on with other bands.

A number of musicians presently are dealing with 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 a variety of of these videos every year, videos 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 subject.

In this post, FUBU founder, Shark Tank star, investor, and best-selling author John Daymond discusses how he beat 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 new store committed to employing 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 hard-of-hearing or deaf. Staff members communicate primarily 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 intriguing article reminding us of how rapidly technology advances.

Dr. Kourosh Parham, a UConn physician-scientist, has developed the first blood test that can recognize 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 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 several encouraging breakthroughs.

Tinnitus is challenging to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments available now either mask 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 may 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 information on how the brain processes and interprets sound and speech, we can start developing better hearing aids and more efficient training programs to help those with hearing loss to maximize speech recognition.

Stay tuned in 2017 for additional breakthroughs 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 people who can pass a regular hearing test.

Research is ongoing that can improve the precision of hearing testing and uncover hearing problems in young people, with consequences including better hearing protection, improved workplace noise guidelines, 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 great reasons to get a hearing test, published by Better Hearing Institute. There’s no better way to begin the new year than by taking control 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?