DrupalCon Portland Introduces Green Sunflower Lanyards for Hidden Disabilities

"Positive change can be so easy in Drupal" - Paul Johnson
DrupalCon Portland Introduces Green Sunflower Lanyards for Hidden Disabilities

A  supportive initiative bloomed at DrupalCon Portland this year, introducing green sunflower lanyards to support individuals with hidden disabilities. This effort was sparked by a proposal from community member Paul Johnson, Director at CTI Digital, and was brought to fruition by the Director of Events, Meghan Harrell. These lanyards mark a significant step towards making Drupal events more accessible and comfortable for everyone.

The sight of such an initiative has warmed the hearts of many,

"Positive change can be so easy in Drupal. "

noted an enthusiastic Paul, who spearheaded this gesture.

New green lanyards a DrupalCon Portland 2024

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower symbol, featured on the lanyards, is designed to discreetly show that an individual has a disability or condition that isn't immediately apparent. Hidden disabilities can include a wide range of conditions such as sensory impairments, mental health issues, learning difficulties, and neurological disorders, among others. These conditions are not immediately apparent, which can make it challenging for those affected to navigate public events and social interactions.

By wearing these lanyards, attendees could subtly signal that they might need additional support or understanding from those around them. The lanyards were available at the registration desk, requiring no prior request, ensuring ease of access for all attendees who might need one. This global recognition system encourages understanding and patience in various environments, such as like DrupalCon.

The initiative has been met with enthusiastic support from the Drupal community. Bram Driesen and Fei Lauren have expressed their delight at seeing the project come to life and noted the positive impact it had during the events.

"I am sure there will be feedback about what we can do better next year but I really hope that it feels like a positive change that we will keep doing in the future."

said Fei.

Fei and Megan
Fei Lauren and Megan Harell at DrupalCon Portland 2024.| Source: Slack

It is important to note that the people wearing these green lanyards are not necessarily asking you to behave in a certain way around them or they are not a task for you take care of. It's a subtle reminder to the people around them that they have a not-so-apparent disability and may need support at times - the wearer usually has a tag on the lanyard that states the support they may need and the disability they have.

Paul Johnson, who came up with the initiative proudly says that his autistic son educated him of these lanyards. 

"I've seen firsthand how much it has helped him be more confident in environments he finds challenging (busy, sensory overload) by making people aware in a way that does not make him feel uncomfortable."

Drupal’s adoption of the green sunflower lanyard is a commendable example of how community-driven initiatives can create significant, positive changes in inclusivity.

"Some people suffering may not even want to be seen as having a handicap, but I think it’s a beautiful idea and a way to normalize and encourage people to talk and reach for help if they want or need to."

noted Alex Moreno.

Alex Dergachev at DrupalCon Portland
Alex Dergachev at DrupalCon Portland 2024| Source: LinkedIn

Alex Dergachev, Co-founder and Tech Lead at Evolving Web, proudly rocked his green sunflower lanyard and regarded it as a wonderful initiative.

Fei Lauren as the DDI Lead, attendees were encouraged to approach her for discussions about this important initiative. She emphasizes that while the green lanyards signal a potential need for extra support, not all wearers want to discuss their conditions openly. 

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower scheme, which the green sunflower lanyards are a part of, is gaining international recognition. This scheme has been adopted by various organizations worldwide, including airlines, airports, and corporate entities, which have begun training their staff and modifying their spaces to accommodate people with non-visible disabilities. More information about the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower initiative can be found on this website.

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