Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) Unveils New Accessibility Feature at O’Hare and Midway Airports

May 16, 2024


CHICAGO— In commemoration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, the CDA today announced its latest partnership with the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower program.

The program raises awareness of hidden disabilities and creates more accessible and inclusive spaces through the use of a Sunflower symbol. More than 1 billion people globally experience some form of disability and not all of those conditions are visible. With nearly 100 million passengers traveling through Chicago’s airports each year, this new initiative, announced today at the CDA’s Third Annual Airport Expo and Job Fair, allows the City of Chicago to increase accessibility for all travelers at its airports.

“I am thrilled Chicago’s airports will join the more than 200 other airports across the world and hundreds of businesses already participating in the Sunflower program,” said CDA Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee. “This simple tool will give our staff and airport employees the skills and knowledge they need to provide the best customer service possible to all passengers regardless of ability. As we look to the future of our airports, expanding accessibility in travel is key and increasing inclusivity for all is our top priority.”

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower launched in 2016, and it’s focused on increasing visibility for disabilities, chronic conditions or diseases that are not immediately obvious to others. That lack of visibility may make it hard to understand that a person genuinely needs support. The Sunflower symbol provides a visual cue for others to identify, acknowledge and understand. The HD Sunflower allows passengers to voluntarily identify that they have an invisible disability or condition and may need a helping hand.

"The launch of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is another shared effort to remove barriers when traveling through Chicago airports,” said Commissioner Rachel Arfa of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. “Individuals with any kind of disability, whether visible or invisible should feel free to use the Sunflower lanyard as a tool in easing stress while traveling. This is yet another way that we are working to make our City the most accessible and inclusive city in the world."

Information booths at both O’Hare and Midway will be stocked with Sunflower lanyards for travelers who wish to self-identify as having a hidden disability. A total of 25 different icons will be available to passengers who opt to take part in the program, including:

  • I have a hidden disability
  • I have accessibility needs
  • I may need more time
  • I cannot stand for long periods of time
  • I may need a place to sit down and rest
  • Stairs/ramps are a barrier to me
  • I may need urgent access to the closest toilet facility
  • I have a career/personal assistant
  • I have an assistance dog
  • Please give me space
  • I need a quiet/safe space
  • I am sensitive to sound
  • I am sensitive to light
  • I am sensitive to smell
  • I am sensitive to smoke
  • I may need help lifting or carrying
  • Do not touch me
  • I have sight loss
  • I require large print
  • I use braille
  • I have a hearing impairment
  • I sign
  • I use assistive listening
  • I use audio description
  • I have a food allergy

Airport employees and CDA staff will sport Sunflower supporter pins indicating they have been trained in the program and are ready to offer assistance. To learn more about the HD Sunflower program at O’Hare and Midway visit