Over the past five years, Village Zendo, a Manhattan-based Zen Buddhist community, has been incorporating American Sign Language into its daily liturgy. The resulting vocal-
manual chanting, in which liturgy is sung and signed, is a new development in American Zen. Through vocal-manual chanting, this community addresses audism (discrimination based on the ability to hear) while moving toward greater inclusion and equity. Moreover, hearing members report gains in their Zen practice due to the incorporation of sign language. This essay examines the development, meanings, and repercussions of vocal-manual chanting in the contexts of Sōtō Zen Buddhism, Buddhist chant, and Deaf musicking.
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