Woman holding her hand to her ear

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

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

1. Full Metal Racket

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

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

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

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

We’re grateful to witness several stories each year about individuals overcoming hearing loss to achieve incredible things. But every once in awhile one comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right frame of mind and perseverance.

Caroline Aufgebauer, a high school senior, worked around the obstacle of hearing loss to learn not one, not two, but three different 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 in spite of 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 amazing things for the hearing loss community by growing awareness of the everyday issues facing those with hearing loss.

In one of her popular articles on her website 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 of several articles warning about the hazards of earbud use and the expanding number of teens with hearing loss.

It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing problems from 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 live performances.

AC/DC had to postpone its tour in the United States as a consequence of frontman Brian Johnson’s hearing condition. 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 growing 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 Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, Ozzy Osbourne, Grimes, 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 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 increase awareness of hearing loss and eliminate the stigma of hearing aids is to have a famous public figure speak on the topic.

In this article, 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 brand new store dedicated to recruiting deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as an essential 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 mainly 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 intriguing article reminding us of how quickly technology progresses.

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

Perhaps the early catching of hearing loss will soon be a routine 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 investigation for the cure for tinnitus continued in 2016, with multiple encouraging developments.

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

But now scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have identified the first gene that might 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 information on 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 elevate speech recognition.

Stay tuned in 2017 for further breakthroughs in the vital area of speech comprehension.

14. What Is ‘Hidden Hearing Loss’? Scientists Detect Symptoms In Young Adults

Hidden hearing loss can be present even in younger people who can pass a standard hearing test.

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

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

And finally, 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 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?