Hidden Disabilities

British Dressage is proud to be a member of Sunflower, to improve accessibility, raise awareness and provide greater opportunity for those with non-visible disabilities.

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Sunflower supports those with non-visible disabilities. Some conditions, chronic illnesses or disabilities are not immediately obvious to others. For some people this can make it hard to understand and appreciate that someone with a non-visible condition genuinely needs support.

Sunflower was created for this reason – to encourage inclusivity, acceptance and understanding and be a visual cue for others to identify with. Simply by wearing the Sunflower, you’re letting everyone know that you may need a little extra help, understanding or just a little more time.

Since its launch in 2016, businesses from every sector have joined the Sunflower network ranging from airports to education, healthcare to football teams and even government agencies. Organisations have chosen to display Sunflower posters with staff wearing Sunflower lanyards to show their support. Information about the Sunflower, including membership plans and Sunflower products, can be found on their website at hdsunflower.com.

What is British Dressage doing to support members with a non-visible disability?

British Dressage has been working with Sunflower to train our workforce. Stewards, organisers, judges and staff have all been invited to take part in an online course to increase awareness and to be able to support our members who compete with a non-visible disability.

Sunflower armbands, similar to those being worn by our Visually Impaired and Deaf riders, will shortly be available in the BD shop. Wearing a Sunflower armband does not give any form of dispensation; it is purely to raise awareness that you have a non-visible disability. Sunflower lanyards and other Sunflower merchandise can be purchased from Hidden Disabilities Sunflower online shop.


We will be working with our organisers so that where possible they can give members as much information as possible before they compete, thus managing any expectations and anxiety about what to expect.  Useful resources that we hope to include are a site plan or drone video to allow members to visualise the venue before visiting, a sensory guide about what you can expect to see, hear and smell and, where possible, a quiet space to allow members to take a moment away from a busy competition environment.

Sunflower supply icons for use on websites, these can represent the presence of accessible toilets, changing rooms, hearing or visually impaired facilities and quiet spaces. We hope to encourage venues to utilise these where possible.

If you are unsure whether you have an invisible disability, please take a look at the list of invisible disabilities which currently has over 900 conditions, illnesses, disabilities or rare diseases that Sunflower wearers use the Sunflower for. The list is not exhaustive, so if yours isn’t listed, you can add it at: list of invisible disabilities.

You will also find a library of The Sunflower Conversations podcast, where the experiences of people living with non-visible disabilities and their friends, family and carers are explored. Along with Q&As with charity experts and healthcare professionals:


You can also search on their map for shops, travel or entertainment in places that support the Sunflower: Discover Sunflower-friendly places map.

Case Study

Tracy Ormrod (BD Para Director) 

My hidden disability (HD) Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME

My hidden disability started after a bout of pneumonia that took quite a long time to resolve. Symptoms vary but the main one is an overwhelming tiredness, it can feel like you have physically hit a brick wall. Sore throats and flu like symptoms including glands coming up and a temperature. This is what normally heralds a downward trajectory for me, it is a signal that I am doing too much. 


British Dressage have created Sunflower Champions to assist with any queries about hidden disabilities or the Sunflower. Your Sunflower Champions are:

Emma Bayliss Project Delivery Lead EMAIL EMMA
Natasha Pearce Para International Officer EMAIL NATASHA
Ashley Stewart Development Officer Scotland EMAIL ASHLEY
Jo Byrne Development Officer North & East EMAIL JO
Nikki Birt Development Officer North & West EMAIL NIKKI
Katherine Perry Development Officer South & East EMAIL KATHARINE
Sharon Walker Development Officer South & East EMAIL SHARON
Amanda Rodgers Development Officer South & West EMAIL AMANDA
Vanessa Archer Development Officer Wales EMAIL VANESSA