There is now available to anyone who wants one, a sunflower lanyard, which signals that the person has a hidden disability, which could include dementia.

This lanyard scheme started in 2016, it was a project that I was very proud to be part of, where groups of different people worked with lots of different organisations to make travel dementia friendly, but the aim was wider than just dementia friendly, as these disability adjustments help lots of different people.  The previous way that the staff supported people with disabilities was to offer to take them through the airport in a wheelchair, but when this project started, they quickly realised that this response was not appropriate for everyone.  The sticky point with airport travel was ensuring that the security and immigration processes are still completed appropriately, yet nevertheless in a compassionate way.

The discussions at the time were that a person in a wheelchair or crutches is easy to see and the staff will understand that they might needs some extra help and support, but how do the staff know to support someone who looks like everyone else?  As the staff wear lanyards to hold their security cards, it was an easy leap to create a different lanyard for travelers that they can choose to wear.  The other key aspect of the training was about not assuming that they know what help they might need, but to ask the person themselves.  Some passengers want to board first, some want to board last, some need a quiet route and others have no problem with their fellow passengers making noise.

There are some other lanyards, but the sunflower one dominates the disability landscape, so is well known.  They are available for free from hidden disabilities (, or they can be purchased in lots of different places for a small sum of money.  They are recognised within the NHS, so that anyone who wants to visit their GP or hospital can wear one and ask for the help that they need.

There is now also a carers lanyard, which is available from disability website (, which clearly state that the wearer is a carer, so that implies that the person that they ware with is cared for and may needs support.  Again, the aim is not to impose upon them what is assumed they need, but to ask them.

Wearing a lanyard is optional, it discloses that the person has some kind of disability of health issue that needs some adjustment by others and not everyone with a disability wants to have that information known.  By making the choice not to wear a lanyard, it can mean that people will not make adjustments without being asked.  Which may well be fine for some people, who simply ask for the adjustments that they want, when an appropriate situation arises.

Lanyards create options, a person can choose to wear one or choose not to.  For anyone wearing one, it signals to those around them that they may need some kind of help and support.  Most people are kind and will make the appropriate adjustments that are required / requested of them.  It is a scheme that has become global, which started from a simple idea of how to make air travel easier for people with dementia and other disabilities.