Hidden disability badge has lost its meaning since the Covid-19 outbreak, say users

By Liv Slomka

Students and many others say the hidden disability sunflower lanyard and badge have lost their meaning since the sunflower lanyard was used as an exemption for masks during the Covid-19 outbreak. 

The lanyard and badge were used as a way to show the public that you have a hidden disability, one which isn’t an easy spot at first.

It was a discreet way of letting people know that you may need some extra support and help or time when doing everyday tasks. 

Joe May, a second-year media student from De Montfort University, said: “I used to wear the sunflower lanyard because I am partially deaf.

“Since it was so overused during Covid-19 for [people with] mask exemptions, I had to swap to wearing a badge at work that says deaf not stupid.

“It helps me avoid customers kicking off or calling me rude. I did prefer having a lanyard with a card that described my hidden disability, but it is no longer an option.” 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, sunflower lanyards were introduced to show that someone was exempt from wearing a mask in public. It was to show they had a health problem which prevented them from wearing one.  

Most of the people who used the lanyards and badges had asthma and other health/ breathing problems which would be impacted by the limitation of wearing masks. 

 Many people who had bad anxiety and suffered from panic attacks and hyperventilation also used the badge to be prepared for any situations which could induce these attacks, or they had panic attacks because of feeling claustrophobic. 

Masks also made people feel claustrophobic and many people did not believe Covid-19 was real because of conspiracy theories at the time. Many people instead ordered the lanyard or badge on Amazon to escape having to wear a mask.  

When wearing the lanyard, people did not have to prove why they were exempt. Which is why so many people had them, which in turn led to the lanyard/ badge losing its importance.  

Many believe it has now led to a negative impact on the hidden disability community. 

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