How Did VeDA Get Started?

In 1983 a group of vestibular patients and professional providers from Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland, Oregon, established a support group named the “Dizziness and Balance Disorders Association of America” (DBDAA). The organizers adopted the following goals:

  • To collect and disseminate information about vestibular disorders and related topics.
  • To educate the public and health professionals about vestibular disorders and their effects.
  • To establish and nurture a support network for people and families affected by dizziness and balance disorders.

Health professionals connected to DBDAA wrote patient-education brochures and a 40-page book, Balancing Act (1992), to explain in ordinary language the anatomy and function of the inner ear and to describe inner-ear problems, symptoms, diagnoses, treatments, cures, and coping strategies. An expanded version of this book was published in 2001.

In 1989, a team from The Today Show conducted interviews with DBDAA board members, staff, and others in Portland. After discussion of vestibular disorders aired on the Dr. Art Ulene segment of Today, DBDAA received about 2,000 requests for information. At that point, the board hired a full-time director and decided to change the organization’s name to the Vestibular Disorders Association (VeDA) as part of its effort to make “vestibular” a household word.

VeDA has reached millions of people with information and support. In 2013 alone our website received almost 2 million visitors.

Following are some of our most celebrated milestones:

  • Created or adapted 70 patient-friendly publications on vestibular disorders.
  • Recruited noted physicians and other health professionals from the U.S., Canada, and France for its board of medical and scientific advisors.
  • Initiated the VeDA Support Group Network to expand local support groups for vestibular patients.
  • Created a pen-pal network called “V-PALS” to enable people with vestibular disorders to communicate directly with one another. 
  • Advocated to agencies like the Social Security Administration on the behalf of its members.
  • Served as a general patient advocate in professional research conferences.
  • Published documents in Spanish.
  • Directed people to many other agencies and sources of help.