Avoca, PA (March 24, 2022) – In recognition of March as Disabilities Awareness Month, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (AVP) is looking to make travel easier, less hectic and less stressful for travelers with hidden disabilities and their families.
AVP has joined the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Organization by introducing its Sunflower Lanyard Program in the Joseph M. McDade Terminal Building. AVP has introduced this program to align with its dedication to continue to deliver excellent customer service to our passengers and visitors, as well as a commitment to expanding accessibility programs and services.
AVP is one of about three dozen airports across the United States, and the second airport in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to introduce the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Program.
“At AVP, we are committed to delivering excellent customer service to every person that passes through our Terminal Building,” said Carl R. Beardsley, Jr., AVP Executive Director. “The Sunflower Program will enable the entire AVP Team to quickly recognize and assist individuals with hidden disabilities who may require additional support while navigating the challenges of an airport.”
The Sunflower program, with roots in the United Kingdom, helps individuals with hidden disabilities discreetly inform airport customer service staff that they may have a disability that is not readily apparent. Examples include dementia, autism, epilepsy, visual limitations, hearing loss, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, speech difficulties, general aging-related decline, asthma, anxiety disorders and COPD, as well as chronic illnesses such as renal failure, diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis and more.
Invisible disability, or hidden disability, is a broad umbrella term that captures a whole spectrum of hidden disabilities and/or challenges that are primarily neurological in nature. These disabilities are defined as disabilities that are not immediately apparent to others.
About 10% of Americans have a medical condition that could be considered an invisible disability and 96% of the American people with chronic medical conditions live with a condition that is invisible.
The Sunflower lanyard alerts the airport community that these individuals may require special assistance and their patience would be appreciated. All airport staff within the Terminal Building, as well as the Bi-County Airport Board, are being trained on how to recognize and engage with these passengers.
Passengers wishing to participate do not have to discuss the details of their disability to take part in the Program. Sunflower lanyards are available to anyone that feels they have a hidden disability. Lanyards may be obtained at the Airport Information Desk, which is located on the first level of the Terminal Building near the baggage claim area.
Individuals are also given the opportunity to complete a card that attaches to the lanyard which provides space to identify their particular disability. The cards may include their photo, name, details about the type of help they need, icons indicating information about their invisible disability and emergency contact information.
When an airport representative encounters someone wearing a Sunflower Lanyard, they are trained to ask if they need any assistance, to be patient if the individual takes extra time to respond or does not respond. If it is offered, airport staff members will read the information on the card attached to their lanyard. The individual wearing the Sunflower Lanyard or their travel companion or care partner may be able to provide additional information to assist staff in further tailoring their customer service approach.
The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower program began in the United Kingdom at Gatwick Airport near London in 2016. It has since grown across Europe and to over thirty U.S. airports and growing. The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Program can also be found in two airports with non-stop service from AVP – Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).
- Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (AVP) has launched the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Program in the Joseph M. McDade Terminal Building.
- The Program is a reminder for airport staff to exercise extra patience, empathy and care during the travel experience of those traveling with invisible disabilities.
- Those participating in the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Program will be identified by a green sunflower product found at AVP’s Information Desk.
- There is no cost to passengers participating.
- AVP is one of about three dozen airports across the United States, and the second airport in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to introduce the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Program.
- If you would like to reserve a Sunflower product prior to traveling, please contact Eve Hennigan at 570-602-2014 or email sunflower@flyAVP.com.
- For more information, visit AVP’s web site at flyAVP.com/sunflower.
About the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower
Since the Sunflower was established in the United Kingdom in 2016, it has been adopted globally by organizations to support both their colleagues and customers. The Sunflower is now recognized across a broad range of sectors – ranging from retail, financial services, transport including over 130 airports, travel and tourism as well as over 450 universities, schools and colleges, all of the UK railway network, theme parks, supermarkets, leisure facilities, healthcare, financial services, emergency services, theatres and over 350 charities. The Sunflower has been launched locally in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the UK and the USA.
AVP currently offers travelers approximately 16 daily arrivals and departures, which includes non-stop flights to three destinations, with one-stop service to hundreds of destinations worldwide. Air service is provided by the following airlines: American (Charlotte and Chicago-O’Hare); and United (Chicago-O’Hare and Newark). For more information, call 1-877-2FLYAVP (235-9287), visit flyAVP.com, follow @flyAVP on Twitter and flyAVP_ on Instagram, connect with us on Facebook, or download the flyAVP app from the Apple Store or Google Play.