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EVV Regional Airport Rolls Out Support for Travelers with ‘Hidden Disabilities’

EVV Airport Newser_Hidden Disabilities-1.jpg
Tim Jagielo
Amy Hofmann, Therapy Dog International Evaluator and Chapter 327 Director, address the crowd at the Tuesday news conference with Crypto, a therapy dog that will begin serving at the airport starting in 2023 as part of the EVV Regional Airport's set of programs to accommodate travelers with hidden disabilities.

Include user-friendly website, and autism sensory kits, therapy dogs and Sunflower Program which alerts staff to those with hidden disabilities

Host intro for audio:
The Evansville Regional Airport has unveiled a set accessibility … and support programs for travelers with hidden disabilities such as P-T-S-D and autism. WNIN’s Tim Jagielo has details.

EVV Airport Newser_Hidden Disabilities-3.jpg
Tim Jagielo
Director of Marketing and Air Service Leslie Fella said, "we know that 80-percent of the individuals living with a disability experience a hidden disability or disability that is invisible to the human eye." These include autism, anxiety, PTSD and chronic illness.

The Evansville Regional Airport has unveiled a set accessibility and support programs for travelers with hidden disabilities such as PTSD and autism.

Details of these programs were shared at a news conference at the airport on Tuesday featuring airport and city leadership, and representatives from Therapy Dogs International and Autism Evansville.

Director of Marketing and air service Leslie Fella said these programs could help one in ten americans.

“So this collection of programs that we're unveiling today, especially provide accommodations for individuals with hidden disabilities,” she said, outlining the programs. “We've launched the Global Sunflower Hidden Disabilities Program, we've launched a sensory toolkit program. And we've also launched a therapy dog program.”

The airport will have therapy dogs on hand starting the first of the year. Fella says these programs are free for guests to use, and the other two are available right now.

The accessibility starts with the airport website. For the visually impaired, it allows for adjusting size and spacing of text, adding highlighting, and can even “read” itself and help navigate the menu. The color saturation can be reduced or eliminated for a lower sensory experience.

And at the airport by wearing the available “Sunflower Program” pin, travelers with hidden disabilities can discreetly alert the trained airport staff that they might need extra help.

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Tim Jagielo
A CAMSE Kit visual at the airport news conference.

The airport now has CAMSE kits which are sensory items for guests with autism.

Fella said the airport has, and will continue to also accommodate those with physical disabilities as well.

She added that she appreciate the help from non-profits like Autism Evansville and Therapy Dog International.

"They're the true experts," she said. "So we've really enjoyed engaging with them, bringing them in to evaluate, assess, make recommendations about our programs. So these are programs that have been truly vetted by local accessibility professionals."