California’s Ontario International Airport (ONT) is offering passengers with non-visible disabilities the opportunity to travel with confidence.

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower programme is a simple tool for passengers to voluntarily share that they have a disability that might not be immediately apparent, and would need a little extra help, time and understanding while at the airport. Travellers with a non-visible disability can request a Sunflower lanyard at the Traveller’s Aid desk in either terminal or the ticket counter of any participating airline, ONT said. Programme materials also can be mailed to travellers with a minimum three-week notice prior to travel.

Travellers don’t need to have booked special assistance to request a lanyard, the airport stressed. Staff, together with all stakeholders operating in at ONT, will be ready to support Sunflower wearers and their traveling companions.

“At Ontario International, we are committed to ensuring access for all of our travellers and visitors, and are proud to provide the Sunflower programme for travellers who might need a helping hand while at the airport,” said Atif Elkadi, chief executive officer at the Ontario International Airport Authority.

The Sunflower programme is globally recognised for helping individuals with hidden disabilities overcome barriers – physical and otherwise – that are often part of their everyday lives. One in seven people – 1.3 billion worldwide – live with a disability, many of them not readily apparent. These can include conditions that are neurological, cognitive and neurodevelopmental in nature, as well as physical, visual and auditory disabilities. They also include respiratory and chronic health conditions such as arthritis and diabetes, chronic pain and sleep disorders.

Launched in 2016, the Sunflower lanyard is designed as a discreet way for airport staff to recognise travellers who might need extra time and understanding. Participating businesses and organisations range from shopping centres and retailers, to colleges and universities, to airports and public transit systems.

Image: Ontario International Airport