GLASGOW Science Centre is one of the city’s top attractions and is popular with people of all ages.

The building was designed to be accessible for a wide range of audiences, but the team works continually to improve people’s experience there.

Disabilities aren’t all about wheelchairs, white canes and assistance dogs. Those things make them visible, but many live with a disability that isn’t easily seen.

Hidden disabilities might include chronic pain, dementia, mental health, learning difficulties, Crohn’s, Colitis or Autism. It’s a long list.

The needs of individuals with hidden disabilities are wide-ranging: they may just need a little extra time and patience; they may have mobility issues; they may require access to specific facilities such as toilets or quiet spaces.

Hidden disabilities can make life tough. Each day can be painful and exhausting and the symptoms of the condition can be isolating.

People with hidden disabilities often find it difficult to leave their house because they are uncertain of the support, understanding and facilities available.

At Glasgow Science Centre we want everyone to be able to engage with science and so we have begun a journey of further improving accessibility within our building to make a difference to our visitors.

Sunflower lanyard scheme

On 9 March, Glasgow Science Centre became part of the Sunflower Lanyard Scheme. Individuals with hidden disabilities can wear a sunflower lanyard to discreetly alert staff that they may require assistance.

Staff can then feel confident in approaching the wearer to offer assistance: it can be comforting just to know that someone

sees you and is there to support you.

The Sunflower Lanyard scheme started in UK airports and is becoming more widely used. In Glasgow it has also been adopted by some supermarket and retail chains and the Kings Theatre, Theatre Royal and Glasgow Airport.

Autism-friendly sessions

We run monthly Autism-Friendly sessions on Sunday mornings.

The same great programme of activities is available for all ages to enjoy, but we have turned the volume down wherever we can.

You’ll find quiet or calm spaces on each floor equipped with weighted items and sensory toys.

There are ear defenders available to borrow and maps to show you where the noisiest exhibits are located whether you wish to avoid them or seek them out. We have even covered over and switched off hand dryers in our toilets.

Visitors are welcome to stay for the whole day.

A school trip can be overwhelming for a child or young person with autism.

We became aware that children were missing out, so we have introduced autism accessible days for schools into our education calendar.

We work with schools to understand the needs of their pupils and adapt our activities to suit.

This is a big building with lots going on, which can be difficult to process.

To help prepare for their visit, we send out Social Stories which allow pupils to familiarise themselves with the new environment they’ll be visiting.

Every small thing we can do to make the trip easier helps.

Changing Places toilets

There are a range of disabilities that mean using a regular toilet is impractical or simply impossible, so we are installing new Changing Places toilets.

These facilities, funded by the Inspiring Science Fund, offer the space and equipment required to meet the needs of disabled people whether they have complex learning needs, physical disability or a bowel condition.

The availability of changing places toilets makes the difference between disabled people being able to come for a day out or having to stay home and they make life much easier for carers. They will be equipped with a bed and hoist and will open at the end of March.

We want Glasgow Science Centre to be enjoyable as possible for everyone, and as a charity we continually look at ways to improve our offering. We are a dementia-friendly venue, and all paying visitors who need special assistance are offered free passes for their carers.

We hope anyone with a hidden disability will feel more confident about coming to Glasgow Science Centre and we’ll continue to improve our facilities for everyone.

We really want all of our visitors to have a fantastic day, enjoy time with family and friends and know you have our support.

For more information on accessibility at Glasgow Science Centre, visit