The self-advocacy movement in Idaho is built on a network of self-advocates and the local SALN chapters they run. That network is the Idaho Self-Advocate Leadership Network (SALN). SALN chapters succeed when they are supported by good advisers.
Job Description for SALN Chapter Adviser
A good adviser for self-advocates understands the self-advocacy movement, shares its values, and is committed to help self-advocates achieve their goals.
All potential chapter advisers should read and discuss with self-advocates in the chapter the booklet “Advising Through Self-Determination: An Information Guide for Advisers” (also available through the Resources page on Idaho SALN’s website).
Chapter advisers play many roles. The booklet has a more in depth description and provides examples. The following is a summary of those roles:
- Someone who uses People First Language and understands why it is important.
- Someone who empowers individuals in the chapter to make decisions as a group and understands the difference between empowering and controlling the decision-making process. A good adviser focuses on the competences and strengths of the different self-advocates in the chapter rather than emphasizing deficits.
- Someone who teaches self-advocates how to plan, run, and evaluate meetings and activities so that key steps in the decision-making process are not overlooked.
- Someone who helps self-advocates identify the different tasks that must be taken on with each decision they make but who does not take on all those tasks for herself or himself.
- Someone who supports self-advocates in the chapter communicate with each other and who facilitates that communication by assisting with logistical and administrative tasks such as updating contact information on all members, updating websites, arranging for assistive technology tools for chapter activities, etc.
- Someone who can help identify and resolve conflicts and support self-advocates in the chapter become skilled at conflict resolution.
- Someone who supports the ability of each self-advocate to be a leader in the chapter and in the self-advocacy movement. This also means facilitating ways for experienced self-advocates to mentor new self-advocates.
- Someone who facilitates the process by which self-advocates raise, manage, spend, budget, and account for money the chapter raises.
- Someone who keeps in close contact with other SALN chapters in Idaho, their chapter advisers, and the state network. This includes traveling with self-advocates from the chapter to meetings and events with other chapters, supporting the mentoring of new chapters, and participating in statewide meetings and events. This also includes providing updated information to the state SALN office on chapter membership, activities, dues, etc.
Where do Good Advisers Come From?
There are many people who work with and support self-advocates. A good adviser may currently support a self-advocate or may be a support broker. A good adviser may be related to a self-advocate and has provided natural supports. However, if an adviser is related to a self-advocate, he or she must treat all self-advocates in the SALN chapter equally and not show any bias or preference for a family member.
A good adviser may work for an agency that provides services to people with disabilities. However, the adviser must be a supporter of self-determination and self-advocacy. The adviser must understand and value those services that support and encourage self-determination and self-advocacy. Not all service agencies promote self-determination or self-advocacy. When selecting an adviser, self-advocates in a chapter should ask about whether the prospective adviser values and supports self-determination and self-advocacy.
An adviser who works for an agency must understand that their work for the SALN chapter is independent from his or her role as an employee or owner of an agency. He or she may not promote his or her agency over any other agency in their work as an adviser to the SALN chapter.
Financial Support for Chapter Advisers
Idaho SALN is committed to finding and keeping good advisers for local SALN chapters. Therefore, we have budgeted funds to pay a small monthly stipend to advisers and to reimburse them for some of the costs they may incur such as mileage, per diem, and supplies. Chapter advisers should fill out stipend and reimbursement request forms to receive these funds. The chapter president and the Idaho SALN treasurer reviews and approves the payment of the stipend and reimbursements.
Networking and Participation of Chapter Advisers across Idaho
Idaho SALN expects chapter advisers to be in contact with each other, to share ideas, to mentor new advisers, and to help each other be the best adviser they can be. Idaho SALN also expects chapter advisers to attend Idaho SALN board meetings: two meetings each year are in person and four are via telephone. Idaho SALN also expects chapter advisers to be on the bi-monthly SALN membership calls and to facilitate the participation of as many self-advocates from their chapter on those calls as possible. Idaho SALN expects chapter advisers to help facilitate the participation of self-advocates in their chapter in other Idaho SALN activities such as Disability Advocacy Day and attendance at state and national conferences.