Akron-Canton Airport program supports passengers with hidden disabilities

Posted on February 06, 2023

In partnership with The Repository, every Monday, Stark Community Foundation highlights positive happenings in our community. Here’s to Good News Mondays!

The Akron-Canton Airport has launched a new initiative called The Sunflower Program that makes the airport experience more accommodating for travelers with hidden disabilities.

Through this program, lanyards, bracelets or pins with a sunflower design are offered to those with a disability as a way to discreetly identify themselves to the airport community as needing additional assistance, extra time or patience while traveling through the airport.

The program allows travelers to voluntarily self-identify that they may require support, and the accessories can be picked up at the Visitor Information Center, airline ticket counter or requested through the airport’s website ahead of travel.

The program aims to bring inclusivity and awareness to those with hidden or invisible disabilities and to remind airport staff to exercise extra compassion and empathy when working with these passengers and their families.

Hidden disabilities can include autism, chronic pain, learning difficulties, mental health conditions, mobility and speech impairments, sight loss, hearing loss or deafness. They also include respiratory and chronic conditions that affect day-to-day life such as diabetes and sleep disorders.

“A top priority of ours is to ensure CAK is inclusive and accessible to all,” said Ren Camacho, airport president and CEO. “The Sunflower Program is a wonderful opportunity for our airport staff and tenants to demonstrate their care and compassion to all individuals, regardless of ability. This is one more step towards making the airport experience seamless and enjoyable because everyone deserves to travel comfortably.”

More than 150 airports participate in the program globally, including 59 airports in the United States. Other airports with nonstop service to and from CAK that recognize the program include Charlotte, Ft. Lauderdale, New Orleans, Orlando, Orlando/Sanford and Tampa. 

Learn more about the program at www.akroncantonairport.com/sunflower-program

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