UCL Estates makes sunflower lanyards available as part of Invisible Disabilities campaign

24 September 2020

Sunflower lanyards are now available on campus, for anyone who wants to discretely signal that they have an invisible disability. Lanyards can be collected from the Andrew Huxley building without any need to register and are available to anyone who wants one.

a woman holding a sunflower lanyard at a high angle facing away from camera

Wearing the lanyard is completely optional and is there as a choice for people who wish to signal that they have a non-visible disability. Invisible disabilities, also known as Hidden Disabilities or Non-visible Disabilities, are disabilities that are not immediately apparent, are typically chronic illnesses and conditions that significantly impair normal activities of daily living. The Invisible Disability campaign is part of the national Hidden Disabilities campaign, and aims to empower people to make UCL a more inclusive place.

UCL Accessibility and Inclusion Manager Pip Jackson, who is organising the campaign, said “After speaking to disabled staff and students I worked with the sunflower lanyard scheme to rename ‘hidden disabilities’ as ‘invisible disabilities’ because there’s really nothing to be ashamed of if you have any of these disabilities. They are not visible, and people at UCL with invisible disabilities felt strongly that this is not something they are hiding or should have to hide.”
Speaking at the launch of the Invisible Disabilities campaign on Microsoft Teams Fiona Ryland, Disability Champion and Chief Operating Officer said “Introducing the sunflower lanyard is part of a number of things that we want to do to make sure that UCL is as inclusive a place for our whole community. We have done a lot of training with our frontline staff including our security staff around the measures that we have put in place, but also including the support for disabled staff, students, and visitors. The sunflower lanyard is one part of a package we want to deliver and this comes from talking to our staff and students.”

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The need to knows

People at the launch party asked several really useful questions to the panel about the scheme. We’ve summarised the essential points from the answers to those questions here. If you have any further questions please don’t hestitate to contact Ieuan or Pip via estates.communications@ucl.ac.uk 

  • The lanyard will be available in some libraries as well as the security office in the Andrew Huxley building. 
  • Teaching staff are aware of the sunflower lanyard scheme, with some faculty members using the lanyard themselves.
  • You are welcome to use the campaign image as your background in Teams calls if you want to use the sunflower to help you navigate online teaching. Do be warned though, we’ve found that it can give you a sunflower halo when your head is in the middle of the screen…

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How can I take part?

There are a number of ways you can take part and support the campaign. If you want to signal that you have an invisible disability please wear your sunflower lanyard proudly when at UCL. You can use one you already have or get a new one from the security office at Andrew Huxley (where staff and student ID cards are issued). If you see someone wearing a sunflower lanyard, please offer help and patience. To help raise awareness you can share the campaign video, and schedule time at team meetings to watch the video together and answer questions from your colleagues. You can send in a photo of you with your lanyard (if you have a creative take on the invisible theme, please have fun with this) to estates.communications@ucl.ac.uk and we will add these to our collage for the campaign key graphic.

The launch party was attended by 50 guests and the panel of five speakers who were compered by Pip Jackson for the Q&A.