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This has been an active year for hearing health, filled with new developments, fascinating research, and encouraging stories of individuals conquering hearing loss to accomplish great things.

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

1. Full Metal Racket

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

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

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

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

We’re privileged to witness several stories each year about people overcoming hearing loss to achieve incredible things. But from time to time one story comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right mindset 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 familiarity with German.

Which, by the way, makes her trilingual despite 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 raising awareness of the everyday issues facing those with hearing loss.

In one of her most popular 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 cautioning 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 injury 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 safeguard their hearing during the course of live performances.

AC/DC had to delay its tour in the US due to frontman 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 developing hearing loss and tinnitus at live events, Pearl Jam provided earplugs to fans at its concerts in a move that hopefully catches on with other bands.

Several musicians currently are suffering 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 a number 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.

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 best ways to raise awareness of hearing loss and eliminate the stigma of hearing aids is to have a famous public figure speak on the subject.

In this article, 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 enhanced his life.

9. The cool reason you won’t hear baristas shouting drink orders at this Starbucks

Starbucks has launched a brand new store dedicated to employing deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as part of the company’s mission to expand opportunities for marginalized groups.

10 of the store’s 13 staff members are hard-of-hearing or deaf. Employees communicate primarily with sign-language, and customers without hearing loss can record their orders on cards.

10. Detecting Hearing Loss, Vertigo Via Blood Tests

This is an interesting 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 associated with inner ear conditions like hearing loss and vertigo.

Perhaps the early diagnosis of hearing loss will soon 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 findings.

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

But now researchers 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 find out more about how the brain processes and interprets sound and speech, we can start developing better hearing aids and better programs to help those with hearing loss to improve speech recognition.

Stay tuned in 2017 for additional 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 young people who can pass a basic hearing test.

Research is underway that can improve the precision of hearing testing and uncover hearing problems in young people, with ramifications 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 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 control of your hearing health and enjoying all of the advantages of better hearing.

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