Flying to explore a new country or city can cause both excitement and distress. The latter sentiment becomes more pronounced for individuals dealing with hidden disabilities, such as anxiety disorders or autism, for whom travel can be particularly demanding. Stressors like unfamiliar environments, time constraints, and crowded spaces can trigger or exacerbate these issues. Since hidden disabilities are not immediately apparent to others, this can make receiving support and understanding difficult.
At Delhi Airport, we understand that travelling can present unique challenges for people dealing with hidden disabilities. To combat this challenge and make flying inclusive and seamless for everyone, including flyers with hidden disabilities, DEL has launched the Hidden Disability Sunflower Initiative. The program aims to make travel easy and comfortable for every passenger.
Before we discuss more about this remarkable initiative by Delhi Airport, let us first understand what are hidden disabilities.
On a global level, 1 in every 7 individuals lives with a disability. This is approx. 1.3 billion people worldwide. While some of these disabilities can be easily identified, like when you see someone in a wheelchair or walking with a cane, many are not immediately apparent.
Several people across the world live with a condition that is not easily visible to others. It can be temporary, permanent, or situational. These include disabilities like autism, chronic pain, anxiety, dementia, learning disabilities or mental health problems.
Since not all people with a walking problem use a wheelchair and not everyone with a visual disability wears glasses, hidden disabilities can also be speech, vision, mobility, or hearing impairment.
The Hidden Disability Sunflower Network is an initiative designed to raise awareness and provide support for people with hidden disabilities. Launched by Gatwick Airport in 2016 to encourage inclusivity, acceptance, and understanding, the Hidden Disability Sunflower is a tool through which travellers can share they are dealing with a hidden condition voluntarily.
People with hidden disabilities can be difficult to detect. It can be hard to understand when a person with an invisible condition needs a helping hand, understanding, or more time in shops, at work, on transport, or in public spaces. This is where the Hidden Disability Sunflower comes in.
They can put on the sunflower to be discreetly seen when in public spaces. Simply by wearing the sunflower, they can let everyone know they might need extra help, understanding, or just more time.
The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower supports people living with invisible disabilities by raising awareness, training businesses, and sharing stories to help create a more inclusive and understanding society.
A sunflower was selected as the symbol of hidden disability since it is discreetly visible from a distance. Distinct, joyful, and dynamic, the flower suggests happiness, positivity, strength, growth, and confidence and is universally known.
DEL has launched the Hidden Disability Sunflower initiative to take another step towards inclusivity. By becoming a sunflower-friendly airport along with other 215 global airports, including Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Latin America, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the UK, the UAE and the USA, DEL is trying to make travel easy and seamless for everyone, including flyers with hidden disabilities.
By taking this initiative, Delhi Airport is promoting its purpose of caring for all the passengers. Now, the flyers travelling via DEL can voluntarily ask for the sunflower merchandise, including the lanyard, pin, or wristband, at the airport. It will be available for collection at the Information Counter at the terminal.
By wearing the sunflower, passengers with hidden disabilities can let the other passengers and airport staff know that they have an invisible condition. Afterwards, the staff will empathetically approach them to provide the necessary help. Delhi Airport has trained its members who are responsible for dealing with the passengers to be aware of the hidden disabilities and the right way to approach them. It will help ensure the passengers do not undergo any difficulty.
By providing these specialised services, the airport aims to empower passengers with hidden disabilities to travel with confidence, knowing they have the necessary support at every step of their journey. One of the PRM and special needs, initiatives, the Hidden Disability Sunflower, is a step to make travel easy and seamless for everyone.
On crossing paths with a sunflower wearer who has chosen to be discreetly seen, here is what we can do:
Delhi Airport has launched the Hidden Disability Sunflower initiative to enhance the travel experience for everyone. Aimed to ensure inclusivity, this step is an attempt to acknowledge and support those with hidden disabilities, such as autism, anxiety, or chronic illnesses who may require additional assistance during their journeys. This initiative promises to bring a positive change and set a new standard in the world of travel.