The People’s Orchestra joined the national Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme in 2019, and we feel it is important that we keep spreading awareness of the essential service this scheme provides. The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme aims to address accessibility issues for those with hidden disabilities, by discreetly indicating to others that those wearing a sunflower lanyard may have access needs or require additional support, help or more time.
Hidden disabilities and invisible illnesses are very common; in the UK, 1 in 5 people have a hidden disability, and we want to ensure that we are advocating for disability rights and access needs, as an organisation. Many organisations have joined this scheme, which is aimed at people with hidden disabilities including autism and Asperger’s, learning disabilities, dementia, mobility issues caused by arthritis, MS, ME or chronic illness and visual or hearing impairments. Invisible illnesses and hidden disabilities don’t always come with physical signs, but often include chronic pain or other challenges which are difficult for able-bodied people to perceive, and they also affect people in a variety of different ways.
Accessibility and awareness should be the standard, and participation in this scheme encourages others to be aware that not every disability is visible, and to always behave with compassion, understanding and patience.
The sunflower lanyards are available from our organisation for orchestra and choir members who have a hidden disability and may need additional assistance, and these aids are free to anyone who needs them. There are many ways to get involved with this scheme if you’re interested, and for where this scheme is recognised, and further details about hidden disabilities, more information can be found at https://hiddendisabilitiesstore.com/. There are also several campaigns to get involved with via their website, such as ‘The Sunflower Shopping Experience’, and regular opportunities to raise awareness for specific illnesses and disabilities, as well as competitions with prizes to be won! Accessibility is a really important issue to get involved with, and we hope our involvement with this scheme will help establish disability rights and access needs as the standard.