The paper opens with an overview of the main ideas and attitudes towards disability which have been characteristic to subsequent periods in the development of Western civilization. This is followed by an analysis of certain oversimplifications and falsifications which have been made in various descriptions of how disability was seen throughout the ages. The said oversimplifications and errors are then shown to be linked to certain ideologies and intellectual currents. The second part of the present study gives insight into the various factors which have affected the growth of special needs pedagogy and the situation of disabled people. This part also includes a discussion of potential dangers to the health and development of people, especially those with special needs, brought on by certain features of the contemporary culture. The final part of the present study offers a number of educational solutions which may lead to positive social change and thus to improve the challenging situation of many disabled people.