Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Program: Customer Service Program Aimed at Supporting Accessible Travel Market
Presenters: Lynn Smith, Program Director, Hidden Disabilities Sunflower - North America; Melyssa Reeves, CDME, President & CEO, Visit Vacaville; Caren Werner, CGMP, Community Partnerships Manager, Visit Ogden
Several western DMOs have established a local version of the internationally recognized Hidden Disabilities Sunflower, a program lauded for supporting travelers with various non-visible disabilities as a way for them to secure additional support they may require while traveling, shopping, or engaging in other public activities.
Developed and launched in the United Kingdom, the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is now a recognized icon that accessible travelers can utilize to discreetly be identified as having a disability. Through identification by service representatives in the hospitality industry, accessible travelers can be assured they will be given attention and support during their journey. This initiative is a simple way for a destination’s visitors and residents to self-identify they, or someone in their group, has a disability that might require a little extra help.
Wearers of the distinctive but discreet green and yellow sunflower icon indicate that they have a disability that is not visually apparent. Not all disabilities are visible – some are hidden and not immediately obvious, such as learning difficulties, mental health as well as mobility, speech, visual or hearing impairments.
DMOs that have adopted the program for their communities offer lanyards, bracelets, and business card-size sunflower cards to both residents and visitors at the DMO’s office and/or visitor center(s) and via the destination’s participating hotel properties, attractions and businesses. Hotels and other businesses undergo training about how to assist sunflower wearers.
Two DMO representatives will share how they involved their communities with the program.