Published: 27/08/2021

Supporting Customers with Hidden Disabilities

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Not every disability can be seen. In the UK, 10 million people have a hidden disability, showing no visual signs that they may require extra support, which is where The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme comes in. 

You have probably come across customers wearing a bright green lanyard with distinctive sunflowers, especially over the last year or so. But what exactly is The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme? And, as a shop owner, how can you support customers with hidden disabilities?

What is The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme?

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme provides lanyards for those with a hidden disability. The lanyard is distinctive but discreet, with a green and yellow sunflower design. The aim of wearing the lanyard is to help businesses like supermarkets, banks, and transport hubs recognise and support the person wearing it, making their experience much more positive.

How to Support Customers With a Hidden Disability

As a retailer, there are many different ways you can help a customer who is wearing a sunflower lanyard.

First, there are some important things to understand about how to treat people with hidden disabilities:

  • Do not judge them or make assumptions about their disability 
  • Do not ask them to disclose the nature of their hidden disability
  • Always treat them with kindness and respect

1. Ask them how you can help

The person wearing the lanyard may not have the confidence or the ability to approach you themselves. So, make sure you go up to the wearer and ask them how you can help. Remember, always talk to the person with the disability directly, even if they have a carer. Also, if the person has an assistance or guide dog, do not pet the animal and discourage other members of staff and customers from doing so, as it can distract them.

2. Always be kind

Make your customer feel at ease as much as possible. You can do this by smiling and considering their feelings, talking and acting as you normally would, and making eye contact. 

3. Listen to them

You must listen very carefully to what the person with the hidden disability is asking and give them time to say what they need. If you are unsure what they are asking, do not second guess what they might want. Instead, ask them to explain again and continue to be patient. 

4. Show respect

A person with a hidden disability lanyard may struggle to explain what they need. If this is the case, do not walk away from them. Instead, make sure you give them your full attention and don’t attempt to multitask. Give them time to finish what they are trying to say. 

There is no right or wrong way to deal with every situation. However, The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme educates people so they understand how to approach those who need support. 

There is lots more information online at


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