Judith Barricella Obituary, Death – Judy Barricella was a renowned disability rights advocate. Polio victim Ms. Barricella was Allegheny County’s first ADA coordinator and attended the law’s signing in 1990. Judy left a legacy, said FISA Foundation’s, Kristy Trautmann. She was patient and impatient enough to concentrate on long-term change. Ms. Barricella died on Nov. 14 from health issues. 75-year-old Etna required Ms. Barricella’s creativity and independence.
Joe Barricella recalls Judy’s polio. Everyone feared polio. No cause or remedy was known. “No vaccinations” During a 1950s outbreak, 3,000 people died. In 1955, University of Pittsburgh researcher Jonas Salk discovered a vaccination that nearly eradicated a deadly sickness. Her 5-year-old cousin still remembers it. If you saw her struggles as a youngster and as an adult, you’d say she was a hero. Her cousin said her leg braces became a wheelchair. Judy never complained, he said. “She was always cheerful. She lived completely. Not once.
Ms. Barricella attended USF and Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. She founded and directed the Center for Independent Living for 10 years. Her cousin said she adopted two sons as a single mother and worked in disability awareness. Ms. Barricella designed a program to fulfill the needs of persons with disabilities at the Allegheny County Department of Human Services and became the first director of the Disability Connection, later known as the Aging and Disability Resource Center (Allegheny Link).
Before retiring in 2015, Ms. Barricella was the county’s first ADA coordinator. She’s earned many honors. Trautmann commended her equal rights work. Amazing. She said most don’t comprehend disability rights. Judy was part of the disability rights movement from the beginning. She attended the ADA signing in 1990. (by President George H.W. Bush). She was a reform-minded leader and activist.
Ms. Barricella led Disability 2000, an ADA 10th anniversary organization. ADA guidelines were implemented. Ms. Trautmann said the ADA marked a milestone, but more work remained. Ms. Barricella promoted accessibility at the Three Rivers Arts Festival with disability and civil rights leaders, bureaucrats, and politicians. “I attend all festivals.” 2002 Post-Gazette article: Ms. Barricella likes the Artists Market. Travel got harder.
“Voices of our Region” chronicled the histories of 57 Pittsburgh-area disabled persons. John Heinz History Center received all documents. It was a big project, said Trautmann. “They observed disabled civil rights advocates weren’t heard. They recorded participants and requirements. Ms. Barricella befriended Tina Calabro, mother of a cerebral palsy son. Ms. Calabro of Highland Park remembers the Center for Creative Play. She raised two sons while crippled. The late ’90s brought us closer. Judy and I advocated for disability.
Ms. Calabro encouraged Ms. Barricella’s Post-Gazette freelancing from 2002-14. Ms. Barricella was the county’s disability rights expert, and she helped manage the United Way’s “21 and Able” campaign to support young adults after high school when many social services were cut. “She was instrumental from the outset in handling the school-to-adulthood transition,” Ms. Calabro said. A friend stated Ms. Barricella’s passion to handicap rights should be remembered. Ms. Calabro said, “Everyone listened” “Everyone respected her. She wasn’t a stagehand. She changed.”Sons Jesse Paul and Anthony Samuel, sister Carla, and grandson Aaron Mathew survive her.