AUAS adopts Hidden Disabilities Sunflower

1 Dec 2022 10:53 | Communication

The AUAS is the first university of applied sciences in the Netherlands to join the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower initiative. The sunflower symbol is used by people with hidden disabilities to show that they may need extra support, help or time to complete tasks.

Zoë de Jong, a former nursing student at AUAS, worked for three years as a peer coach at Limitless (the AUAS platform for students with disabilities) where she coached first-year students with similar disabilities to hers. Zoe came up with the idea of working with Hidden Disabilities Sunflower during her studies. "I myself have multiple medical conditions. My autonomic nervous system is a bit off. Because the blood circulation in my brain doesn't work well, I get dizzy easily and can faint if I stand for too long. Most of my conditions are invisible unless I have my wheelchair with me. I first came across the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower at an airport in England. The sunflower has been on show at airports there for years. I also came across the symbol at several organisations in my own home town. That got me thinking about how nice it would be to be the first university of applied sciences in the Netherlands to commit ourselves to the Sunflower."

Zoë de Jong

Hidden disabilities

People who have a hidden disability such as autism, ADHD, chronic pain or anxiety regularly face misunderstanding. Because their disability is not visible, it can be difficult for those around them to recognise or understand the challenges they face. "When you have a hidden disability, you don't always feel like explaining it to just anyone and everyone," she says. Wearing the Sunflower lanyard is an accessible way to ask for some extra help from those around you, without having to go into detail about your disability," says Zoe. The Sunflower symbol can be worn as a lanyard, badge or wristband. The Sunflower is recognised worldwide and currently has more than one million users.

Hidden Disability Sunflower

Joint responsibility

"I hear from students around me that they don't always feel seen or heard. The AUAS has many facilities for students with disabilities, but there are still gains to be made in terms of physical accessibility. For example, many locations are still not accessible for wheelchair users. By joining Sunflower, we are creating more awareness for people with disabilities and taking concrete steps towards making the AUAS more inclusive. Hopefully this will inspire other universities of applied sciences to join Sunflower as well. Many students with disabilities now know about the Sunflower, but that doesn’t mean that people without disabilities know about it. We have a joint responsibility to make studying and working at the AUAS as accessible as possible."