In an effort to provide excellent customer service to all guests, PHL is launching the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Lanyard program this month. The program is based on the sunflower scheme developed in the United Kingdom, where green lanyards with sunflowers are used in airports, rail stations, and retail stores to signal that an individual may need a little extra support.
“Not all disabilities are visible,” said Saron McKee, PHL’s Director of Access and Accessible Programs. “At PHL, we strive to create a fully accessible and welcoming experience for all of our guests. The sunflower lanyard is a discreet way for someone to indicate that they have a disability and helps us to recognize the person may need additional help or more time.”
It is estimated that 10 percent of people in the U.S. have medical conditions that can significantly impair normal daily activities and are not immediately apparent to others. These invisible disabilities include epilepsy, PTSD, diabetes, sleep disorders, depression, asthma, pain, fatigue, dizziness, brain injuries, Crohn’s disease and more.
PHL’s guests do not have to discuss the details of their disability to participate in the program and can voluntarily request a lanyard, free of charge, from an airport security counter located just past the security checkpoints. Airport employees have been trained to recognize and engage with people wearing the sunflower lanyards. People can ask for any assistance that may be helpful to their individual experience while at the airport. Some examples of things people may ask for includes additional time, the ability to accompany another person to the gate, or help reading a sign.
“Extensive planning, outreach, and training at the federal level for our employees and airport stakeholders was necessary in order to launch this program. I am extremely grateful for the intentionality, thoughtfulness, and commitment Saron McKee brought to this program and brings to all her work,’’ said Kathleen Padilla, PHL Deputy Director of Aviation for Diversity and Inclusion. “We look forward to initiating new accessibility programs and other diversity efforts in our nondiscrimination, diverse contracting equity, and concessions programs.”