I almost enjoy it when people find out I have MS and say, “I’m so sorry.” I always think to myself, If they only knew…
They don’t know I travel all over the world in a wheelchair, and almost always by myself.
They don’t know my travel writing and photography have won awards, or that I run three small businesses and a nonprofit.
They don’t know I’m a top expert and author on border security, or that I’ve been on TV more times than I can remember.
They don’t know I’m a veteran, or a single mother to two amazing boys who inspire me to be the best me possible.
They don’t know it’s my mission in life to not only see the world as a wheelchair user, but to eliminate the fear so many people have of going out into it.
Those three words have no place in my dreams.
SOLO WHEELCHAIR TRAVELER
After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005, this Air Force veteran refused to let MS define her. She has also refused to let her wheelchair confine her. Sylvia has visited 57 countries, 49 of those as a wheelchair user and 37 of those by herself. Her mission is to share information about the accessibility of her destinations with fellow wheelchair users around the world.
ACCESSIBLE TRAVEL WRITER
Sylvia's writing about wheelchair accessible travel has been featured in The New York Times, New Mobility magazine, The Orlando Sentinel, on Lonely Planet, and the Matador Travel Network. She also posts regularly on her award-winning accessible travel blog, Spin the Globe. In November 2017, Sylvia published her first travel photography book, The View from Down Here, and The View from Down Here II was published in January 2019. In December 2019, she was selected as a brand ambassador (O Mag Insider) for O, The Oprah Magazine. Her fifth book, Everything You Need to Know About Accessible Cruising, won the Next Generation Indie Book Award for Best Travel/Travel Guide Book in 2020, and she published her sixth book, Blogging While Disabled, in May 2020.
DRUG WAR ANALYST
As a subject matter expert on Mexico's drug war and border security, Sylvia has been writing and speaking for over 14 years about issues like drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, and illegal immigration. She writes regularly for American Military University's InHomeland Security site, and her articles have been featured on multiple national media sites and in peer-reviewed academic journals. Sylvia is the author of two books: Cartel and Border Insecurity.
As a drug war and border security expert, Sylvia has been featured on episodes of Brad Meltzer's Decoded and America's Drug War on The History Channel. She has also consulted extensively with producers for Border Wars and Drugs, Inc. on the National Geographic Channel. For the last decade, Sylvia has been the go-to on-air expert for national and international news outlets like CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, NBC News, The Today Show, and Al Jazeera English.
Listening to Sylvia's voice makes you want to join her for a cup of coffee, or adopt you as a second mom. Her fun and friendly vocal tone is genuine, and feels instantly approachable. Her years of experience narrating exciting and inspiring travel videos always shine through. Sylvia also has a serious side, having worked as a subject matter expert on Mexico's drug war and border security. She knows when and how to strike a more formal or narrative tone when called for in a project. Despite having no accent while speaking English, Sylvia is a fluent Spanish speaker, born to Cuban immigrants. Sylvia is actively seeking opportunities for commercial, corporate, documentary, eLearning, and travel/tour voiceover projects. She is particularly enthusiastic about work that will emphasize and help increase media representation of people with disabilities.
Sylvia is most comfortable when she has a camera and microphone in front of her. As a drug war and border security expert, she has given keynote addresses and served on panels for organizations like the Google INFO Summit, C-SPAN BookTV, the Texas Book Festival, the Mob Museum, and several World Affairs Councils. As an accessible travel expert, she was the keynote speaker at the Women of Vision charity event at Flagler College in May 2019, and a presenter at the Asia/Pacific Conference on Disability and Diversity in March 2020.
Sylvia won the title of Ms. Wheelchair USA in July 2016 with a platform of promoting programs that support children of parents with disabilities. This platform grew out of The PreJax Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit she founded in November 2015 to provide college scholarships to students affected by MS. As a solo wheelchair traveler, Sylvia continually tries to inform and educate the hospitality sector and businesses large and small about accessibility issues. She has also created a series of PSA-style videos about how to improve accessibility at the local level, one of which has garnered over one million views and counting.
Photos by Sylvia Longmire, Erin Karl, and Alana Casanova