Hidden disabilities: what are sunflower lanyards and should I have one? | Motability Scheme

Over a billion people worldwide have some form of disability and 80% of them aren’t visible.* Many people with a ‘hidden disability’ – such as neurodivergence, hearing loss and epilepsy – carry a sunflower lanyard as a way of communicating that they have a disability.

The sunflower lanyard, or non-visible disability lanyards, indicates to people (including transport staff, teachers and health professionals) that the wearer may need additional support. This help could be help with packing shopping at the supermarket or giving them a little more time to board a train.

What is the sunflower lanyard?
People living with invisible disabilities often face barriers in their daily lives. Wearing the sunflower lanyard is a way to discreetly make others aware that a little help or consideration would be appreciated.

The sunflower lanyard doesn’t tell anyone which disabilities someone has. It also doesn’t tell them exactly how they can help, just that they might need extra help. For example, someone with Autism might need the lights turned down, or to be somewhere quiet. Someone with arthritis might need support with additional support with moving or opening things.

How does the sunflower lanyard work?
There are many ways in which wearing a sunflower lanyard can help. For example, someone with Irritable Bowel or Bladder Syndrome may require an aisle seat at the cinema or on a plane. It’s hoped that by wearing the lanyard it will be easier for someone to ask for help. Ideally, it also means that the wearer will be asked if they need help by someone who can support them (e.g. a shop assistant).

People who wear the lanyard can also choose to give additional information if they don’t feel comfortable talking to people about their disability. Wearers can attach an ID card to the end of their lanyard with details about their condition and the support they may need.

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