SHOPS and businesses without adequate access for the disabled could fall foul of new laws.
Legislation came into force today requiring that businesses and public buildings have easy ways in and out for disabled people.
The extended powers in the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act apply to firms with fewer than 15 workers.
Larger companies should have already made headway with changes.
Traditional obstacles to wheelchair users, such as awkward steps, heavy doors or lack of space, should have been tackled under the Act.
Firms which fail to comply face legal action from the UK's estimated 10m disabled people.
About 2m businesses countrywide should by now have made ``reasonable adjustments" to their premises or the way they offer services.
But Janet Donald, policy and research manager for the Aspley-based Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: "Many shops haven't got round to doing anything or making any changes."
She added: "There are some who are ready and quite a lot who aren't."
She warned shops and businesses that they could be liable if the necessary provisions were not in place.
David Quarmby, chairman of the Kirklees Disability Rights Network, said there was still a lack of awareness about the final implementation of the Act.
"When it comes down to it, a lot of shops and businesses may leave themselves vulnerable to being taken to court because they are not providing adequate access to their goods or services."
But he added: "A lot of disabled people also don't know their rights."
Mr Quarmby said some shops and businesses in this area were difficult to reach.
"Access is pretty poor generally, particularly into places like restaurants. People in wheelchairs, when they are going out for a meal, have to be very selective."
He said many premises went some way to improve the lot of disabled people, but did not go quite far enough.
For help, log on to www.drc-uk.org
THE Kirklees Disability Rights Network looked at examples of access in Huddersfield Town Centre.
Chairman David Quarmby cited the new Huddersfield Pride shop in Cloth Hall Street, which has just opened selling Town and Giants merchandise.
Mr Quarmby said: "There is good access inside, but they have got a little step outside. They could quite easily have put a ramp in."
Similarly, Huddersfield railway station has superb external access via a ramp - but things become more difficult inside.
"For someone who can't get down steps you have got to go across the track, so you can't get from platform to platform easily."
He said such an important building should house extensive facilities.
"You want a lift put in to allow people access to get across and catch a train. It's simple things like that."
There were wider benefits, said Mr Quarmby.
"Improved access for disabled people provides better access for all," he added.
For information, visit the Commission website at www.drc-gb.org