Bluetooth technology aids the hearing impaired

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Hearing aids used to be big, bulky and not very versatile. Now the technology is so advanced, your hearing aids can answer phone calls or even stream music. And it keeps improving.

Janell Cole has had at least one of her ears plugged with a hearing aid since she was 10 years old. The technology was basic.

"At the most I could turn it up, turn it down. I might have a switch that sent the microphone directionally,” said Cole.

But she upgraded to devices that could connect with her phone. Cole is helping Puerto Rico rebuild after Hurricane Maria. Her new controls are making her job easier.

"The clearer the sound is coming from them, the better I'm able to understand what they are saying,” said Cole.

What makes the phone better? Her doctor says for starters, he sees her less.

"She's not having to come in for follow up appointments like she would have with her other devices. She has way more parameters that she can manipulate and make these situations a lot better for herself,” said Sanford audiologist Dr. Brady Ness.

Dr. Ness adds more and more technology is how hearing aid companies will keep drumming up business.

"Even their kind of standard model hearing aid has that kind of capability, so you're going to see that moving forward into future generations,” said Ness.

Hopefully keep making Cole's life easier. Cole controls her hearing aids with her phone's settings and an app from the manufacturer. It can adjust the volume of the device's microphones. It can also turn off the back mics and use the phone as a receiver.