TF Green launches new program for travelers with hidden disabilities

West Bay

Courtesy: Rhode Island Airport Corporation

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — You may soon see people wearing sunflower lanyards throughout Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport.

That’s because the Rhode Island Airport Corporation is now participating in the “Sunflower Program,” which allows travelers with hidden disabilities to discretely inform airport employees of their need for additional assistance.

The program’s name stems from the free sunflower lanyards given to those who request them. When worn, the lanyards subtly indicate a person may need assistance or extra time to complete common airport procedures, such as checking in, going through security and reading signage.

There are also sunflower face masks, bracelets, ribbons and hand sanitizers available for people who request them.

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Hidden disabilities can range from mental disabilities like autism, anxiety and dementia to physical, but not immediately noticeable, disabilities such as chronic pain and hearing loss.

“The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower has helped increase awareness of the challenges adults and children with hidden disabilities can face, especially when faced with the challenges that can accompany travel through airports,” R.I. Airport Corporation Board Chair Jonathan Savage said.

“Hidden Disabilities Sunflower wearers can benefit from help being offered to make their daily living a little easier, increasing their level of comfort while receiving a higher level of customer service from airport staff,” he continued.

While the Sunflower Program is new to TF Green, it was first introduced in 2016 at Gatwick Airport in the United Kingdom. The program is now recognized in 25 airports across the country and 72 airports around the world.

Travelers can request sunflower lanyards by submitting an online application or by contacting Customer Service by calling (401) 691-2000 or emailing customerservice@PVDairport.com.

No documentation is required to request a lanyard and participation in the program is completely voluntary. Passengers do not need to disclose the nature of their disability, but may choose to do so, on the lanyard’s card if they wish.

Wearing the lanyard doesn’t guarantee fast-tracking through security or any preferential treatment, and passengers will still be required to arrange special assistance with their airlines and TSA.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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