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RFD Joins Organizations Around the World in Supporting Individuals with Non-Visible Disabilities

Hidden Disabilities Sunflower makes the invisible visible for RFD passengers

ROCKFORD, Ill. (Sept. 1, 2022)Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) announced today its partnership in the global Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Program. The program, which launched in 2016 at London Gatwick Airport, helps identify passengers who wish to discreetly alert staff that they may need a bit of extra time because of a hidden disability. Hidden disabilities can be physical, mental, or neurological conditions that limit or challenge a person’s movements, senses, or activities but are not obvious to others.

As a Sunflower member, RFD will provide a green sunflower pin to any passenger who requests one to identify themselves as an individual with a hidden disability. This lets RFD gate agents, TSA, staff, and volunteers know that the passenger may require patience, understanding, or additional assistance while at the airport.

RFD staff received enhanced training about ways in which to offer support to those with hidden disabilities including “Sunflower Conversations,” which gave the team a deeper understanding through interviews with people who wear the Sunflower by sharing their personal stories about the sunflower’s role and the value and support the programs provides.

“The opportunity to travel unlocks the beauty of the world we live in and offers connections to the people we love,” said Mike Dunn, Executive Director of RFD. “People with disabilities – visible and hidden – have the right to travel comfortably and safely. By participating in the Hidden Sunflower program, we hope to allow those with hidden disabilities the opportunity to travel with confidence knowing RFD is prepared to support their needs.”

RFD will be sharing information about its participation in the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower program on its website and in displays throughout the terminal. The Sunflower program will be displayed in major touchpoints throughout the airport including the restaurant, ticket counter, and rental car counter.

Currently, 164 airports around the globe are Sunflower members. The program has expanded to include hospitals, financial institutions, event venues, schools, shops, libraries and more.