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Sunflower Accessibility Program Featured at O’Hare and Midway Airports

Jul 1, 2024

A passenger is provided with a Sunflower lanyard at one of O’Hare’s 12 Information Desks. © Chicago Department of Aviation

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Travelers with invisible disabilities passing through O’Hare and Midway International Airports can now discreetly signal they need assistance thanks to a new Chicago Department of Aviation partnership that helps create more accessible and inclusive spaces.

 

 

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower program allows travelers to voluntarily share they have a disability with airport employees, many of whom will be wearing an “I Support the Sunflower” pin. Travelers can pick up a green-and-yellow Sunflower lanyard at an airport information desk, choosing from 25 specific icons that quickly communicate things such as: Stairs/ramps are a barrier to me, I have sight loss or I have a hearing impairment.

 

 

The "I Support The Sunflower" pin is worn by airport employees to help identify who is available to provide additional support.

The “I Support The Sunflower” pin is worn by airport employees to help identify who is available to provide additional support. © Chicago Department of Aviation

 

 

“I am thrilled Chicago’s airports will join the more than 200 other airports across the world and hundreds of businesses already participating in the Sunflower program,” Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee said. “This simple tool will give our staff and airport employees the skills and knowledge they need to provide the best customer service possible to all passengers regardless of ability. As we look to the future of our airports, expanding accessibility in travel is key and increasing inclusivity for all is our top priority.”

 

 

Not all conditions are obvious to others, and the Sunflower symbol provides a visual cue that a person needs support, prompting the question, “How can I help you?” Whatever passengers’ specific needs may be, all airport employees are familiar with the program and can quickly offer aid.

 

 

People who have neurological, cognitive, visual or auditory disabilities, or conditions like diabetes or arthritis, can easily inform employees of their needs. Those with autism, PTSD or chronic pain can also convey what they require. Some passengers may want to share they are sensitive to light or noise, have trouble lifting or carrying items or need to locate service pet relief areas.

 

 

Pictured from left to right: Miss Blackhawk Valley Teen Megan Bowlyou, Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee, Chicago Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities Commissioner Rachel Arfa.

Pictured from left to right: Miss Blackhawk Valley Teen Megan Bowlyou, Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee, Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities Commissioner Rachel Arfa. © Chicago Department of Aviation

 

 

“Individuals with any kind of disability, whether visible or invisible, should feel free to use the Sunflower lanyard as a tool in easing stress while traveling,” said Commissioner Rachel Arfa of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. “This is yet another way that we are working to make our city the most accessible and inclusive city in the world.”

 

 

Sunflower lanyards and basic information cards are available at all information desks at O’Hare and Midway, both before and after security, as well as the Multi-Modal Facility at O’Hare. If passengers want to include information about their disability to personalize their ID cards, icons can be purchased on the Sunflower website. An icon sheet is also available at airport information desks.

 

 

Watch an introductory video and learn more about the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower program at Chicago’s airports.

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