Sally Bailey

Barrier-Free Theatre: Including Everyone in Theatre Arts — in Schools, Recreation, and Arts Programs — Regardless of (Dis)Ability

Trade Paper

Distinguished Book Award for 2010 from the American Alliance for Theatre in Education (AATE)


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Distinguished Book Award for 2010 from the American Alliance for Theatre in Education (AATE)

Barrier-Free Theatre is a nuts-and-bolts, hands-on, comprehensive guide for making theatre arts accessible to children and adults with disabilities — and a way to include those without disabilities in the same programs.

Why theatre arts? Theatre arts can "level the playing field" and empower participants of all ages. Dramatic interaction creates relationships that last long after a performance is over. Written for drama teachers, recreation leaders, special educators, therapists, and other group leaders, this book explains in simple, non-technical language how to make accommodations for successful participation in creative drama, improvisation, puppetry, rehearsals for traditional plays, and development of new plays geared to participants’ strengths. Actors will gain self-confidence, improve their communication skills, find new ways to express themselves, and work more effectively and creatively with others.

Ways to use theatre arts as a tool to teach traditional classroom subjects, such as science, social studies, and language arts, are highlighted, as well as using it for instruction in social interaction and other vital life skills. Chapter 12 focuses on inclusion issues with typically developing peers in aesthetic and recreational settings.


For those who believe that all children, regardless of special talents or abilities, need and have a right to learn through the arts, this text is a revelation. Sally Bailey, an immensely experienced practitioner and astute researcher, is the kind of writer who draws us in to learn with her through a wealth of examples and stories. Although written with a specific and important group of young people in mind, the information, strategies, and techniques that this text so clearly describes are of value to all teachers who seek to make their classrooms more inclusion-friendly and engaging learning environments.
Juliana Saxton, professor emeritus, Department of Theatre, University of Victoria, BC Canada

This moving and inspired book offers great insight and practical knowledge on making theatre arts inclusive for everyone. Sally Bailey’s lucid and vivid writing provides a convincing testament that a disability does not need to hold anyone back and that the power of drama, imagination, and self expression can be available and are essential for everyone. With easy to follow hands-on techniques and lesson plans for classrooms, teachers, and therapists, it is a unique and essential textbook which should be required reading for anyone working in the fields of education, creative arts therapies, or psychotherapy.
Yehudit Silverman, Associate Professor, Creative Arts Therapies Department Concordia University, Director of the films The Story Within — myth and fairy tale in therapy and The Hidden Face of Suicide.

Sally Bailey, RDT [Registered Drama Therapist] shares her rich expertise and experiences as one of America’s foremost authorities on classroom drama and theatre production with disabled youth in Barrier-Free Theatre.

Bailey’s book includes thorough descriptions of and recommendations for facilitating arts experiences with young people with particular physical and cognitive disabilities such as cerebral palsy, blindness, ADHD, Down syndrome, and several others. She provides current and concise medical information on the disabilities, accessibility and inclusiveness guidelines, practical advice for effective teacher-student interactions, and specific ways of working in dramatic/theatrical and learning contexts that only someone with her authentic field experiences can offer.

This comprehensive, state-of-the-art resource is a goldmine of methods, content, and sage advice, peppered with success stories as well as honest reflections on what didn’t work. I highly recommend this book as important, essential reading for all teachers and clinicians of special-needs youth, and grades K-12 theatre educators.

Johnny Saldana, Professor of Theatre, Arizona State University

Additional information

Weight 1.5 lbs
Dimensions 8 × 6 × 1 in

Trade Paper


500 pages


Idyll Arbor

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