A discreet way to make the invisible visible
The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is here every day of the year to support people living with non-visible disabilities in their communities by raising awareness, training businesses and organizations and sharing stories to help create a more inclusive, understanding society.
Since its launch in 2016, the Sunflower has become a globally-recognized symbol for non-visible disabilities and helps organizations expand their equality, diversity and inclusion objectives to include non-visible disabilities for both colleagues and customers. Organizations from every sector have been joining the global Sunflower network - ranging from retail, travel and tourism, transport including over 180 airports - as well as railway networks, coach and bus services and ferries, education (over 500 universities, schools and colleges), healthcare, central and local government agencies to football teams, theme parks, theatres and financial institutions.
The Sunflower has now been launched locally in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the UK, the UAE and the USA.
Above all, it is used anywhere where people meet. Find out where it is known near you using our Sunflower map
How did it all start?
By 2016, the Accessibility team at Gatwick Airport were already assisting over 500,000 passengers a year but recognized that some passengers had a non-visible disability. How could they assist them too?
Following an evaluation which included the Gatwick team, the Airport Passenger Advisory Group and local and national charities, a green lanyard with a yellow sunflower was chosen for passengers to discreetly choose to indicate they have an invisible disability and may need some support, assistance or simply a little more time when moving through the airport.
The success of the Sunflower lanyard and the positive response it has received, has increased awareness of the barriers that individuals with invisible disabilities can face.
Why did we choose a sunflower?
Without a visual cue, it can be difficult for others to identify, acknowledge, or understand the daily barriers faced by people living with an invisible disability.
We aimed for a discreet sign that was still clearly visible from a distance as well as being distinctive, joyful, and dynamic. We chose a sunflower as it suggests happiness, positivity, strength as well as growth and confidence and is universally known.