SHOPS and businesses committed to making their premises accessible to disabled people could be in line for an award.

The Access for All award is being launched by Darlington Association on Disability (Dad) and Darlington Borough Council today, to mark the European Year of Disabled People.

The award will acknowledge the business or organisation that has done most to aid access for disabled people.

New buildings are required by law to have a ramp and disabled accessible lavatory. But from next October, all premises will be required to improve accessibility under the Disability Discrimination Act.

But Dad chairman Gordon Pybus said the award was for those who had taken "that extra step" already.

"It could be a restaurant with Braille menus, but it needs to be something that is more than just a token gesture," he said.

"The award is not just for service providers either - it could be for an employer who has installed a lift so disabled people are not discriminated against."

Stuart Muckle, Darlington Borough Council's building control manager, said: "Everybody thinks that by putting in a ramp or an accessible toilet they are doing something good, but that is just basic requirements. This award is to recognise a business or organisation that has gone much further."

He said good examples in the town included Crown Street library and the county court in Coniscliffe Road.

The closing date for nominations is November 1. Forms are available from the Town Hall or the Dad office in the Market Square.

The award will be presented at a ceremony at the Arts Centre on November 27.