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The selection of a mode of communication by members of a family with a deaf child is a critical decision in the life of that family since it will condition how the family will be able to function in the future. However, while some writers have considered the outcomes of this decision, there is little information on factors that influence the decision. The purpose of this study was to examine why families developed one pattern of communication rather than another. The data came from the parents of 192 deaf adolescents who responded to a nationally distributed questionnaire. Results suggest that the mother takes the lead in determining the family's choice of a mode of communication. The single largest influence on the mother's mode of communication was the child's degree of hearing loss, followed by the child's mode of preschool education and the mother's level of education. The implications of this study for those who wish to promote the use of manual communication in families with a deaf child is to target mothers, particularly those who are less well educated, for intervention and training programs.