“Hidden disabilities don’t have physical signs and include learning difficulties, mental health as well as mobility, speech, visual or hearing impairments. They can also include asthma, COPD, and other lung conditions as well as chronic illnesses such as renal failure, diabetes, and sleep disorders when those diseases significantly impact day-to-day life.
Living with these conditions can make daily life more demanding for many people. They affect each person in different ways and can be painful, exhausting, and isolating. Without visible evidence of the hidden disability, it is frequently difficult for others to acknowledge the challenges faced and consequently, sympathy and understanding can often be in short supply.”
Across the UK, and in other countries, the Sunflower symbol is increasingly being recognised for persons with a hidden disability. National Highways is now promoting this scheme for road users facing assistance on motorways and major a-roads.
The Sunflower symbol can be used by those with a hidden disability on their vehicle so that, in the case of a breakdown or incident, responders understand the road user may need help with:
- Understanding instructions and communicating their needs
- Staying calm at a time of stress
- Getting to a place of safety
As a road user, we are advised to:
Ensure you do not place yourself in danger – this is vital
In an Emergency Dial 999
If a breakdown on a National Highways motorway Dial 0300 123 5000
Listen to and look for their needs. The person may be unable to communicate their needs verbally. They may show you their Sunflower card. This describes their disability on the front and details their needs and emergency contact details on the reverse.
If the person has a carer, family member or friend with them, listen to what they have to say.
Instructions from you to the person should be clear, concise, and stated calmly. It may be necessary for you to repeat what you said – if so, try to rephrase what you want to say and do this calmly
Appropriate gestures may assist when giving instructions
Only if safe for you to do so, give help to assist the person to get to a place of safety
Do not attempt to move any vehicle, mobility device, etc.
(Featured image courtesy of Hidden Disabilities)